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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Edith Head

October 28, 1897–October 24, 1981

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Edith Head until we are able to commission a full entry.

Edith Head’s brilliant eye for design earned her a record eight Oscars for Best Costume Design for movies that included Roman Holiday (1954) and The Sting (1974). Born Edith Claire Posener, Head graduated from UC Berkeley in 1919 and earned a master’s degree in romance languages from Stanford University in 1920. She began teaching French and art at the Hollywood School for Girls before landing a job as a costume sketch artist in 1924 at Paramount Studios, where she distinguished herself from her male colleagues by consulting with the stars who would wear her designs about their preferences. Her iconic costumes for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sunset Boulevard defined those films, and she was as comfortable designing for period pieces such as The Ten Commandments and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as for such modern Hitchcock films The Birds and Vertigo. Her designs earned her 35 Oscar nominations and eight Oscars. In 1967 she switched studios from Paramount to Universal, and in the late 1970s she earned a Meritorious Service Award for designing a women’s uniform for the US Coast Guard. She also wrote two books on her design philosophy, The Dress Doctor (1959) and How to Dress for Success (1967). Her last film, the noir comedy Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, was released posthumously in 1982 and dedicated to her memory.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Edith Head." (Viewed on December 8, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/head-edith>.


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