Elois Jenssen, 81; Costume Designer Co-Won an Oscar

From a Times Staff Writer

Elois Jenssen, a costume designer who shared an Academy Award for the 1949 film “Samson and Delilah,” has died. She was 81.

Jenssen died Feb. 14 at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills. She had been in failing health after suffering a number of strokes and died in her sleep.

Born in Palo Alto, Calif., Jenssen attended the Westlake School for Girls but moved to Paris to study fashion design. At the outbreak of World War II, Jenssen and her family returned to California, where she enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute.

After graduation, she found work in costume design for producer Hunt Stromberg, including the Hedy Lamarr film “Dishonored Lady.”


After leaving Stromberg, she worked on two other Lamarr films, “Let’s Live a Little” (1948) and Cecil B. DeMille’s “Samson and Delilah.” She and the other costume designers on that film -- Dorothy Jeakins, Gile Steele, Gwen Wakeling and Edith Head -- received the Academy Award for their work.

Jenssen worked on a number of films through the mid-1950s before moving into television, where she designed the wardrobe for Ann Sothern in “Private Secretary” and then worked with Lucille Ball for several years on “I Love Lucy.”

She received her second Academy Award nomination in 1982 for her work on the science fiction film “Tron.”

She is survived by her stepson, Thomas J. Andre III; five step-grandchildren, and six step-great-grandchildren.


A memorial service and reception will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Country House in Woodland Hills.