I was first introduced to the charms of Jackie Joseph (b. 1933) in her role as Audrey in one of my favorite films, the original The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). Gradually, I began to notice her elsewhere, in film and television roles. When you eventually add it up, you realize Joseph was in great demand during her peak years as a character actress. Her girlish voice and naive, trusting face made for smart comedy casting in the roles of daffy girlfriends, and the like.
A Los Angeles native, Joseph did very little stage work, although her part in the Billy Barnes ensemble did take her to Broadway in the late 1950s. It also introduced her to her husband, Ken Berry, to whom she was married through 1976. Not surprisingly, Little Shop was one of her first professional screen roles. This was followed by lots of guest shots on sitcoms like The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle USMC, F Troop (with husband Berry), McHale’s Navy, Hogan’s Heroes, and That Girl. Then came a good stretch of film work: you can see her in A Guide for the Married Man (1967), Who’s Minding the Mint? (1967), With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), The Split (1968), The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969) and The Cheyenne Social Club (1970). Joseph’s period of greatest reach was probably 1970 through 1973, as she was simultaneously a regular on The Doris Day Show, and the voice of Melody on the animated kid’s show Josie and the Pussycats.
Joseph continued to work in film and tv after this, but with less frequency. In the ’80s and early ’90s she enjoyed a new period of recognition when she was adroitly cast in the Gremlins and Police Academy films. Since 1992 she has worked very seldom, although she still pops her out from time to time to take a role. She was on an episode of Modern Family just this year!
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