Joan Castle Joseff and her business sense
Joan Castle Joseff, the president of Joseff-Hollywood who died March 24 at 97, took over as head of the company founded by her husband, Eugene, after he died in a plane crash in 1948. The company was well-known in Hollywood at the time for designing, manufacturing and renting most of the costume jewelry used in the movies.
Among the countless stars who wore the company's jewelry on screen were Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
For Joan Castle Joseff, who had joined the company in 1938 as a secretary, some stars stood out. Among them were Bette Davis and Hedy Lamarr, who were prone to ripping off all their clothes and jewelry at the end of long scenes. "It wrecked the strings of pearls," she recalled in a 1992 interview with The Independent of London.
She was equally unimpressed with the many stars who claimed they were allergic to any metal other than gold or who "forgot" to return the jewelry at the end of filming.
"I developed a pretty foolproof response to that in the end," she said in the 1992 interview. "I just used to send them a note saying I was thrilled they liked the pieces, and a bill for $50,000. It worked like a charm every time."
-- Dennis McLellan
Photo: Joan Castle Joseff shows some of her jewelry -- and Toute Petite, a toy French poodle -- in 1961. Credit: Los Angeles Times