Joyce Selznick

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Joyce Selznick (February 12, 1925 – September 17, 1981) was a talent agent, manager, casting director, and screen writer for actors and musicians. She was the niece to famous film producer David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind, 1939), which provided her with early exposure to the industry. Her career of about three decades began with the discovery of Tony Curtis in the late 1940s; after notably casting The Buddy Holly Story, released in 1978, her work ended with her premature death in 1981 at age 53 from breast cancer.


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Joyce Selznick was raised in the Hollywood culture due to her uncle's legendary status as a film producer. During her lifetime, she became a prominent and well-known figure among actors.

In the late 1940s, she discovered New York truck driver Bernie Schwartz, who became the well-known actor Tony Curtis.[1]

She discovered James Darren around 1955, when he was about 19, recognizing his talent when he contacted her based on the recommendation of a photographer's secretary, Yvonne Bouvier, in 1959. Darren recalls:

I was studying acting in New York City with Stella Adler. I'd been studying with her for a couple of years.... [Yvonne Bouvier] set up a meeting between me and Joyce Selznick, who worked for Screen Gems. I went down to 1650 Broadway, the Brill Building. On my way to [the] meeting with Joyce, we just happened to get on the elevator at the same time. She kept staring at me. I never met her. She never met me. We got off at the same floor and walked to the same office. That was our meeting. Joyce brought me over to Columbia Pictures about a week later and got me a contract there.[2]

Darren was cast in Rumble on the Docks, released in 1956, and after receiving hundreds of fan letters for a non-lead role, his casting and fame continued to flourish. Darren would end up doing the famous Gidget movies, which led to his becoming a singing star; it is not clear whether Selznick knew of this talent when she signed him or not.

While working as the eastern talent scout for Colpix Records, a division of Columbia Pictures in 1959, she signed the emerging pianist/singer (and civic rights activist) Nina Simone. Colpix would end up releasing nine albums for Simone. [3]

Selznick eventually did casting work for films, perhaps most notably for The Buddy Holly Story, released in 1978. She was responsible for selecting Gary Busey to play Holly, in what would be an Oscar-nominated performance. Critics praised Busey's singing and acting, the recognizing of talent in both being something in which Selznick was experienced. Selznick served as the casting director for thirteen films during her career, and screen-wrote for three other films.

She also helped launch the careers of George C. Scott, Faye Dunaway and Candice Bergen. Later, she discovered Michael Pare. She was a manager to Kurt Russell, Brenda Vaccaro, David Hasselhoff, Joey Travolta, Ann Jillian, and Fannie Flagg.

Ultimately, Selznick was diagnosed with breast cancer, and died on September 17, 1981, in Hollywood.

In the 1988 made-for-television film The Ann Jillian Story, a film about actress Ann Jillian's life after she discovers she has breast cancer, Selznick was portrayed by Pam Hyatt.


  1. ^ "Joyce Selznick, Actors Agent And a Casting Director, Dies". New York Times. New York, NY: New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 25 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "Gary James' Interview With James Darren".
  3. ^

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