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Hurd was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Lolita (née Espiau) and Frank E. Hurd, an investor. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Roman Catholic. She grew up in Palm Springs, California, and graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Economics and Communications, in 1977.
She joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman, the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became involved in production. She formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, in 1982 and went on to produce a number of box-office hits including The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and The Abyss (1989). She later married Brian De Palma. In 1998, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
Hurd was married to James Cameron from 1985 to 1989. She has one daughter from her marriage to director Brian De Palma. She is an avid supporter of Arsenal FC. Gale's daughter, Lolita de Palma, was born 1991.
On October 3rd, 2012, Gale received a "Hollywood Walk of Fame Star" for her outstanding work on many programs and movies, including The Walking Dead. Many cast members from The Walking Dead attended the ceremony, including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Callies, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, David Morrissey, IronE Singleton, Scott Wilson, Steven Yeun, Michael Rooker, and Laurie Holden. 
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