In the late 1920s, Eugene Joseff (1905–48) decided to leave the Midwest and his career in advertising in search of better economic opportunities. He moved to Los Angeles where the motion-picture industry thrived.
The charismatic Joseff soon befriended the famous costume designer Walter Plunkett (1902–82) who first inspired Joseff to create jewelry for Hollywood films. Joseff, who at a young age apprenticed at a foundry, began experimenting with making jewelry in the garage of his Sunset Boulevard home.
He developed a matte metal finish for his jewelry, which minimized the glare from the strong studio lights. He also amassed a reference library to aid him in the creation of pieces for historic films. He used this reference library to make himself into an invaluable resource to the costume designers of Old Hollywood, allowing them to pore over his tomes for their film projects.
Before long, the talented Joseff became the premier costume jeweler in Hollywood, designing, manufacturing, and renting jewelry to movie studios under the brand name Joseff of Hollywood. Joseff created exquisite pieces for famous actresses such as Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express, Greta Garbo in Camille, and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind.
Hollywood stars now desired Joseff of Hollywood creations to wear off-screen. Joseff realized the lucrative potential of a retail line, which he began to sell in high-end department stores. He moved to a new location in Burbank, close to the studios but with enough space to expand his operations.
With his business quickly growing, Joseff needed someone to manage the day-to-day affairs. Joan Castle (1912–2010) was hired, and before long the two fell in love, and were married in 1942. Together they were an unstoppable, glamorous pair! By continuing to create designs for “every woman” and converting studio designs for retail sale, the demand for Joseff pieces continued to grow.
With the advancement of WWII, the U.S. Government began seeking out private factories with capabilities that might be helpful to the war effort. With his casting operations, Joseff’s factory fit the bill, and was commissioned to make small aerospace parts for U.S. Military.
In the beginning this was a huge hush operation, and Joan Castle Joseff was not even allowed to step into the factory location during this time due to her Canadian born status! Joseff famously had jewelry and airplane parts going down the same casting line in the shop, coining the phrase “From jewelry to jets.” Of course, this only helped Joseff of Hollywood’s fame, putting the company (and the man) directly center of the romanticized cross over between Hollywood and Aviation.
Joseff has continued to cast parts for the aerospace industry to this day, for customers such as Lockheed, Boeing, and General Electric.
Just six years after their union, and less than a year after the birth of their only son Jeffrey, Joseff died suddenly in a plane crash September 18, 1948. In the wake of this tragedy, Joan ignored the advice of her friends to sell the business and focus on their infant son. Instead, she took over control completely, becoming President and running the entire aerospace department as well as jewelry!
Joan continued to be a large presence in the Hollywood scene, famous for her Christmas parties held at the hottest Hollywood haunts, where guests could bump elbows with the stars and see the dazzling Joseff Christmas tree, traditionally decorated each year with jewels from the Studio.
At under 5 feet tall, Joan Castle was a truly unexpected dynamo in the aerospace business, walking into meetings with her perfectly coordinated outfits and matching jewelry. It was at this point that she began going by “J.C” which helped her stay under the radar a bit in business correspondence, although she admitted to enjoying the reactions when people met her in person for the first time!
Tina Joseff (formerly Turner) began working for Joseff of Hollywood in the 1970’s after dating Joan and Eugene Joseff’s only son Jeffrey. They were wed in 1983 before the birth of their only child Jeffrey Joseff Jr.
After so many years of working alongside Joan, and marrying into the family, Tina became Joan’s right hand woman. Joan’s son Jeff worked in foundry operations, but Tina was learning to head the office. Having worked in all departments at the company, Tina had a strong understanding of the business acumen needed to run such a diverse company, and although Joan Castle never officially retired from Joseff of Hollywood, Tina took on more and more until she became the head of day to day operations sometime in the 1990’s.
When Joan Castle Joseff passed away in 2012 at the age of 97, it was Tina and her children who continued the family business. Her daughter Michele (from a previous marriage) assisted with the jewelry department for a few years before moving on to other things, and her son Jeff Joseff Jr. moved from casting to jewelry and management over time.
Now as we move into 2019, it is a team of Tina Joseff (President), Jeffrey Joseff (Vice President) and his wife Kristin Joseff that continue to run the business, recently launching their direct sales online store, and bursting into social media.