Joan Castle: From Broadway to Barmoor

Joan Castle (1916-2009) started her career in New York as one of Gus Edwards’ stable of performing kiddies in vaudeville in the 1920s. Her first film was a bit part in the Fox comedy short Mr. Lemon of Orange (1931), with El Brendel, Fifi D’Orsay and William Collier Jr. Still only a teenager, she also had minor roles in the features Young Sinners (1931), and Hush Money (1931), in which she played Joan Bennett’s kid sister.

Castle returned to New York to appear in the Broadway show Collision in 1932, followed by several comedy shorts for Vitaphone and Mack Sennett: Here, Prince (1932) with Joe Penner; False Impressions (1932) with Lloyd Hamilton and Marjorie Beebe; I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket (1933) with Walter Winchell, Paul Whiteman, and Ruth Etting; and Wrongorilla (1933), with Jack Haley.

She stepped into the lead of the Broadway show Sailor Beware in 1934 on short notice when the star Audrey Christie became ill, and gained favorable notices, resulting in a tour with José Ferrer in The Play’s The Thing.

She co-starred in the 1936 comedy short Gold Bricks for Educational with Bert Lahr. Then came bit parts in the films Change of Heart with Gloria Stuart and Lyle Talbot; Kentucky Moonshine with the Ritz Brothers and Tony Martin; Always Goodbye with Barbara Stanwyck and Herbert Marshall, and Gateway with Don Ameche, all 1938.

During World War II she appeared in a USO show called “Nothing But The Truth,” which performed in South America, Africa and Egypt. This was followed by a replacement stint in the Broadway show My Sister Eileen (1940) with Shirley Booth and William Post Jr. She married Post the following year, then divorced him in 1944, the same year of her last film Sing a Jingle with Allan Jones. After this, she made a couple of tv appearances and married Captain William Sitwell of the noble English family, living with him at Barmoor Castle in Northumberland for nearly 20 years. In her later years she appeared on Radio Eirann from time to time with the Abbey Players in Dublin. By the time of her death in 2009 she was back living in her hometown of New York City.

To learn more about vaudeville, which was where Joan Castle got her startconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,