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Elois Jenssen

Oscar-winning costume designer

Oscar-winning costume designer Elois Jenssen died Feb. 14 at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, Calif. She was 81.

In addition to her lengthy career producing costumes for film and television productions, Jenssen was an active leader in both the Costume Designers Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Born in Palo Alto, Calif., she attended the Westlake School for Girls but transferred to the Parsons School of Design in Paris at age 13 to study fashion design. When the outbreak of WWII interrupted those studies, she and her family returned to California, where Jenssen enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute.

When she graduated Jenssen found a position with producer Hunt Stromberg’s new company as an assistant to costume designer Natalie Visart. She succeeded Visart as Stromberg’s top designer three years later and received her first screen credit for her work in “Dishonored Lady,” which starred Hedy Lamarr.

After Stromberg closed his production office, Jenssen freelanced for a period, during which she again designed costumes for Lamarr in “Let’s Live A Little.” At the end of 1948, she became one of five designers recruited for the massive job of producing the costumes for the Cecil B. DeMille epic “Samson and Delilah.” Jenssen, Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins, Gile Steele and Gwen Wakeling all won Oscars for the production.

Following work on several additional films, Jenssen moved into television, where she first produced the designs for Ann Sothern in “Private Secretary,” then worked for several years with Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy.” Her other television credits include designs for shows starring Julie Newmar (“My Living Doll”) and Eleanor Parker (“Bracken’s World”).

In 1982 she received her second Academy Award nomination for her work on the Disney sci-fi film “Tron.”

Jenssen was predeceased by her husband, Thomas J. Andre Jr. She is survived by her stepson, five stepgrandchildren, six stepgreat-grandchildren and several cousins.

A memorial service and reception will be held 2 p.m. April 3 at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Country House.

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