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Joseff Hollywood, part 2

After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948, his wife Joan filled his role in all his companies (including Joseff Precision Metal Products, which built aircraft and missile parts) until her own passing only five years ago.  With almost ninety years in the film business, Joseff-Hollywood accrued quite a collection of jewelry… not to mention an equally boastful collection of anecdotes to match!

For a trio of thieves in 1942’s The Jungle Book, Joseff created a swirling red and gold armor breastplate with faux gold faces, all studded with rhinestones. Due to the considerable amount of jumping and wrestling during scenes, the colorful rhinestones would come loose, forcing the crew to pause several times a shoot just to replace them.  In 1963’s Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor had the famous snake belt designed for her — a thick gold rope clasped by a coiled snake with an emerald crown in its head constructed specifically to her body. Enough changed between the day of measurement and the fitting that by the time Joan Joseff returned with the belt, it was 2½ inches too small. Elizabeth Taylor insisted Joseff had measured incorrectly and although Joan knew the truth (after all, she was known for her meticulous cuts) she didn’t argue.

Like her husband, who crafted heavily ornate jewelry for 67 royal children in Anna and the King of Siam as well as thousands of pieces for a treasure trove in The Jungle Book, Joan enjoyed the hard work for its own sake. Their devotion and determination to their trade are likely what carried Joseff-Hollywood to the top during Hollywood’s Golden Age of film. They left behind quite a legacy and a wealth of ornaments, each with its own glittering history.

 

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