Joan Castle

1916 — 2009 Age: 93 years old
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A native New Yorker, Joan Castle was attracted to the stage as a child, and the famous talent scout Gus Edwards became her agent in the 1920s. Although Hollywood beckoned in the 1930s, her true love was the stage, and she always gravitated back to Manhattan. In 1930 she was sent to Hollywood to audition for the first science-fiction musical, Just Imagine (1930). The part was eventually given to Maureen O'Sullivan, but Castle became a contract player for Fox Films and appeared in several features. Because of a major studio fire, her first Hollywood films are considered lost: Young Sinners (1931), Hush Money (1931), in which she played Joan Bennett's sister, and Mr. Lemon of Orange (1931), opposite "the world's funniest Swede," El Brendel. In New York she was co-star of several comedy shorts, such as Wrongorilla (1933), opposite Jack Haley, I Know Everybody and Everybody's Racket (1933), opposite Walter Winchell, and Here, Prince (1932) opposite Joe Penner. Her first big break was playing the female lead ("Billie 'Stonewall' Jackson") in the hit Broadway comedy "Sailor Beware" (Lyceum, 1933) produced by her friend H. Courtney Burr. With Burr she had seen the show many times, and happened to be in the theater the night Audrey Christie became ill. She stepped into the part and immediately established herself as a qualified actress. When Christie's contract expired, Castle assumed the role until the show closed in December 1934. In a touring company, she appeared opposite José Ferrer in "The Play's The Thing." During World War II she toured for eight months in the USO show "Nothing But The Truth." The tour, which she called "the happiest time of my career," took her to troops in South America, Africa and Egypt. When Hollywood beckoned again, it was Twentieth Century-Fox, where she had minor parts in a few films in the late 1930s. Her biggest role was playing "Vera Grant" opposite Allan Jones in the Universal feature Sing a Jingle (1944). Back in New York she replaced Effie Afton in the comic part "Violet Shelton" in "My Sister Eileen", opposite Shirley Booth. During the long run of the successful comedy she married the leading man, William Post Jr., who had also made a few films in Hollywood. The marriage ended in divorce. She subsequently was engaged to Neil Vanderbilt, but married English sea captain William Sitwell of the legendary Sitwell family. During her 18-year marriage to Sitwell they lived in the 11th-century Barmoor Castle in Lowick, Northumberland, and she occasionally appeared on Radio Eirann with the Abbey Players in Dublin. Date of Death 3 December 2009, New York City, New York  (respiratory failure)
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{"year":1916,"medium":"Feb 26, 1916","full":"Saturday, February 26, 1916"}
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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