Angela Giokaris Alexander Jefferies
November 27, 1916 – October 8, 2011
Memorial Service – Mt. Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home
10507 Holmes Road – Kansas City, Mo.
November 9th, 2011 –
Visitation and Service at Noon
Private Burial following at Forest Hill/Calvary Cemetery – 1:00 PM
Known in the movie industry as Angela Alexander, Angela had a long and great film career as a Motion Picture Woman's Costumer and Designer which spanned over four decades. Traveling to Hollywood in the 40's with two of her sisters from their hometown of Kansas City, Angela was the first of the three to join the Motion Picture Costumers Guild, Local 705. Angela found herself quickly assigned to MGM where she worked with an up and coming 'starlet' named Lucille Ball in "Two Smart People" – 1946. This was way before Lucy's TV career, and the film was directed by Jules Dassin, who Angela would see again in her future when she worked with Dassin's wife, Greek Actress Melina Mercouri (of "Never on Sunday" fame) on the Norman Jewson classic "Gaily Gaily" in 1968. Angela received her training on "Two Smart People" under costume designers "Irene" who would later design "Meet Me In St Louis" and "Kismet", as well as the great costume designer Fred Valles known for "Easter Parade" and "Spartacus" in later years. After getting her feet wet at MGM, Angela was assigned to the Costume Wardrobe department at 20th Century Fox. Her first picture there was on the set of "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim" - 1947 a Betty Grable picture directed by George Seaton. This gave Angela a chance to work under the famed Costume Designer Orry-Kelly known for Casablanca and who would later win the Oscar for "Some Like It Hot". Angela would work again with Orry-Kelly on "Irma La Douce". But this first movie for Angela at Fox would also prove interesting as it was here that she met a young "wanna-be" actress named Marilyn Monroe (who had a bit part in the movie) In later years, Angela and Marilyn would become close friends at Fox.
Angela tried out Independent movies too, and on the film "Wagon Master" -1950 directed by the great John Ford, she met a veteran men's costumer, Wes Jefferies, who had worked with John Ford on many films, Angela and Wes began dating right after Wagon Master, and over a decade later they would become man and wife (the second marriage for them both). Wes convinced Angela to stick with Independents and work alongside him (with Angela as Woman's Costumer and Wes as Men's Costumer). But before joining Wes, Angela went back to Fox to do the 1951 – "People Will Talk" where she became friends with the great Cary Grant. For the next few years, she worked exclusively with Wes on a slew of Tarzan and Bela Lugosi movies in the early 50's, one in particular was a highlight , the 1951 - "Tarzan in Peril", where Angela got to work with the great Dorothy Dandridge. Wes got a costumes designer's credit on this movie as well. But by now, Angela longed for the comforts of the Fox lot and she returned there to help out on the 1952 movie "I'm Not Married". Her friend Marilyn was becoming a name, and Angela did 3 movies with Marilyn back to back. After "I'm Not Married", they did "Don't Bother to Knock" where Angela became friends with Richard Widmark, and then the "Howard Hawk's movie "Monkey Business" all with Marilyn, and all in 1952. The costume designer on the last two was Travilla (who won an Oscar for designing "The Adventures of Don Juan") and Travilla would go on to design the next five Marilyn Monroe movies, and often call for Angela to help out. Also on "Monkey Business" Angela would get to work once again with friend Cary Grant, and working with Marilyn Monroe would always be a joy for Angela. Even though Women's Wardrobe people seldom got screen credit in those days, Angela didn't care, she loved her job. In fact, Angela relates one story when Marilyn was leaving for the weekend and she was a bit upset that she had been set up with a "blind date". When Angela asked if she knew anything about this "blind date" Marilyn said, "Oh he's just some ball player". Angela managed to find out it was Joe DiMaggio and urged Marilyn to go. (The rest is history). On Monday morning Angela asked "so how was your date with the ball player"? Marilyn answered "he is oh so very nice, but not very good looking"! Marilyn somehow enjoyed confiding in Angela. Thus Angela got a reputation of being able to "handle" Marilyn, which in the future turned out to be a bit problematic for Angela. In the following years Angela helped out on Marilyn's "Niagara" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" with Mitzi Gaynor both at Fox.
Angela was dating Wesley Jefferies more seriously now, and she was lured away from bigger Studio pictures to join Wes back on a slew Independent movies for Howard Koch's new company. They both got Costume Designer credits on pictures like "Hot Cars" -1956, "Crime Against Joe", "Rebel in Town", "Emergency Hospital", "Tomahawk Trail", "Voodoo Island", "War Drums", "Bop Girl Goes Calypso", "The Girl in the Black Stockings" and "Fort Bowie" … which were a bunch of forgettable Independent Pictures for the next two years until 1958. Then Wes and Angela's luck began to change as Independents started to earn their stripes. Producer Walter Wanger hired Angela and Wes to costume his film "I Want To Live"- 1958 directed by Robert Wise. This film earned Susan Hayward a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Angela was now in demand once again, and she and Wes were hired to costume "China Doll" -1958 with Victor Mature. This pictures was set up by John Wayne (as an uncredited producer) and word got out to Frank Sinatra who was setting up another film (also as an uncredited producer) called "X-15" -1961, directed by Richard Donner starring Charles Bronson, Mary Tyler Moore, and narrated by Jimmy Stewart. Wes and Angela did such a great job on this film that Frank hired them for his next movie (starring the whole Rat Pack) "Sergeants 3" – 1962. When Frank Sinatra found out that Wes and Angela had just officially gotten married before they had started "Sergeants 3", just as soon as the production wrapped, Frank sent Angela and Wes on a honeymoon to Greece aboard his private plane all expenses paid. (The plane was a prop engine back then, so it took 3 days with stops along the way to get to Greece!) But that's just the kind of guy Frank was (no thanks required). Sinatra also saw to it that when they returned, Angela and Wes started on his next movie "The Manchurian Candidate" – 1962.
Later that year, Angela was asked back to Fox to help Marilyn on her movie, "Something's Got to Give" – 1962, as Marilyn was being very difficult on the set of the George Cukor film. Angela was summoned in as a good worker and Marilyn's friend to help ease the tensions on the movie. Marilyn by then had a strong reputation as being very hard to work with, but she and Angela (Ange as Marilyn called her) always got along.
Not long after filming began, Marilyn told Angela that she wanted to fly to New York for a few days as there was a big celebration for President John F. Kennedy's 45th Birthday at Madison Square Garden, but that the Fox Executives would not let her go because of the tight filming schedule on the picture. Angela consoled Marilyn and said "what can you do, your career comes first". The next week, Angela got a call from the Wardrobe Department that Marilyn had left the set, and no one could find her. After calling all over LA for Marilyn, and Angela trying her best to locate her, Fox discovered she had flown to New York anyway without their permission. Angela knew nothing about it but got in huge trouble when the Fox top-brass said "how could you let her go"? That night Marilyn sang the infamous "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy in the beautiful rhinestone dress designed by Jean Louis (which Angela also knew nothing about). Marilyn knew to at least keep some things secret. She barely made it to Madison Square Garden way after schedule, and was introduced by Peter Lawford as "the late Marilyn Monroe". Just over 3 months later Marilyn would be found dead. Angela's husband Wes had a nephew who was Marilyn's handy man at her house in Los Angeles. Also Angela and Wes were very good friends with Marilyn's house keeper as well. Three weeks before Marilyn's death, she had asked this handyman to put a lock on her bedroom door from inside. He thought that was an odd request, (since she had a live-in housekeeper), so he purchased the pad lock anyway, but never got around to installing it right away, then three weeks later Marilyn was gone. Angela knew Marilyn so well and never believed Marilyn would commit suicide… "never" as Angela put it. The mystery surrounding Marilyn's death still goes on today and the famous "rhinestone dress" she wore to sing for President Kennedy was auctioned off for $1.2 million dollars. It was a sad ending for a very dear friend of Angela's.
Right after "Something's Got To Give" – 1962 closed down production and was never finished because of Marilyn's death; Angela got to work with Costume Designer Orry-Kelly once again, this time on "Irma La Douce" – 1963 directed by the great writer/director Billy Wilder. This was a welcomed job for Angela after the sadness of losing Marilyn.
Shortly after "Irma La Douce", Angela began working for the Mirisch Company on the film "Toys In The Attic" – 1963 starring Gene Tierney, Geraldine Page, and Dean Martin. Then, with the previous huge success of "The Manchurian Candidate", Wes and Angela both were hired for "Seven Days In May" – 1964, now working with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Ava Gardner on this classic thriller.
Not long after, Billy Wilder once again called Angela and Wes back for his Kim Novak – Dean Martin comedy "Kiss Me, Stupid" – 1964. They both segued into two John Sturges pictures in 1965, the thriller "The Satan Bug" and the western "Hallelujah Trail" with Burt Lancaster (who they had worked with on "Seven Days in May"). The film also starred Lee Remick. Then, 1966 proved to be Angela and Wes' busiest year. They got to work with the "King" Elvis Presley on two movies back to back "Frankie and Johnny" and "Paradise Hawaiian-style". They both received a telegram after shooting from Elvis and the Colonel telling them how great their contribution to the films had been. When they received the telegram they were already knee-deep into the Norman Jewison classic "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" with Alan Arkin and Eva Marie Saint (and many people used to confuse Angela and Eva Marie because she they both looked so much alike at that time).
After this, Angela and Wes did three more Mirisch pictures in a row, "Fitzwilly" with Dick Van Dyke,"The Party" starring the infamous Peter Sellers, directed by the great Blake Edwards, and "Gaily Gaily" – 1969 directed by Norman Jewison, where Angela got to work with Greek-born Actress Melina Mercouri and see Julies Dassin, Melina's husband once again, from Angela's first film "Two Smart People" at MGM in 1946. Also that year, Angela and Wes did a forgettable movie "The Thousand Plane Raid" – 1969, but Angela also got to work with Christopher George, an American-born Greek actor and Angela always enjoyed getting to use her well-tuned spoken Greek after having just worked with Melina.
In 1970, Angela and Wes got to spend quite a few months in Hawaii once again (on the continuation of James A Michener's epic novel "Hawaii") with its sequel "The Hawaiians". This picture starred the great Charlton Heston, and the beautiful Geraldine Chaplin. Coming back state side, Angela and Wes did another Mirisch Picture "The Organization" starring Sidney Poitier reprising his famous character "Virgil Tibbs" from "In the Heat of the Night". Wes made this picture his last before his retirement. Angela was not quite ready to retire as of yet, but having done so many pictures alongside her husband Wes, she felt maybe it was time for them to spend their leisure years together. Angela did one final film in 1973 "The All American Boy" starring Jon Voight. Jon took a real liking to Angela on the set, and he became fascinated when Angela told him her original Greek name was "Angeliki", which in Greek mean's "Angelic Messenger of God". Angela told him that she would have rather been called "Angelica" but everyone just started calling her "Angela". (and Marilyn always just called her Ange)
A few days after that Jon Voight came to Angela on the set and told her that one day if he and his wife (then actress Marcheline Bertrand) ever had a daughter he was going to name her "Angelica". They had just had a little boy. Two years later, Jon Voight and Marcheline had a daughter who is today Angelina Jolie (Jolie is her middle name which she used professionally instead of her last name "Voight") Jon did name Angelina, Angelica, but a year later after his divorce with her Mother, Marcheline began calling her Angelina, and it has been that way ever since.
So Angelina Jolie was actually named after my Aunt Angela "Angeliki" (Giokaris) Alexander.
My Aunt lived a great life, in the Golden Age of Hollywood. She inspired me to have a career in the Motion Picture Industry, and I will always be grateful for her love and inspiration. Angela was truly "an Angelic Messenger from God" for so any people. In her later years retiring in Palm Desert, California she was active in the St George Greek Church of the Desert since her father, also named George (Giokaris) helped start the Greek Church of the Annunciation in 1910 in Kansas City where Angela was born. She passed away on October 8th at her home in Rancho Mirage, California at 94 years of age. Having grown up in Kansas City with a family of 5 sisters (total) and 3 brothers, Angela will be laid to rest here in the Giokaris family plot at Calvary Cemetery of Kansas City. Although she is survived by numerous nieces and nephews, Angela is now reunited with her entire family in heaven.
God Bless Her Soul… may she rest in eternal peace.
Nicholas Eliopoulos (Angela Alexander Jefferies Nephew)
Film Editor, and Documentary Producer/Director, Los Angeles, CA.
Copyright: 2011 – All Rights Reserved