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Bernard Castro; Inventor Improved Convertible Couch

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The inventor whose singing commercials for his convertible sofas boasted that he was “the first to conquer (living) space” has died.

Bernard Castro, a Sicilian immigrant whose Castro Convertible couches have sold in the millions, was 87 when he died in his sleep Saturday at his home in Ocala, Fla.

His death was announced by his daughter, Bernadette, who as a little girl was seen during television’s infancy opening the sofas with the “feather-lift mechanism.”

Castro, who never finished high school, came to America from Italy in 1919. He studied English at night while working as an apprentice upholsterer in New York City by day.

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In 1931, with his savings of several hundred dollars, he opened his own shop.

In 1945 Castro invented a version of a foldable bed and couch that improved on clumsier models that looked more like beds than sofas.

Several years later, the fortunes of Castro Convertibles took off when Bernadette, then 4, began demonstrating in a commercial--which Castro’s company made by itself--how easy it was to open the bed.

Bernadette Castro, now president of the company, said her parents did not realize that she could actually open the bed until they found her asleep at home in one.

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“People couldn’t afford larger apartments,” she said many years later, explaining the company’s success. “My father saw the potential.”

Besides his daughter, Castro is survived by his wife, Theresa, and six grandchildren.


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