Brastoff is best known for his terra cotta, ceramic, and jewelry designs. Many of his pieces were influenced by native cultures (especially Native American, Alaskan, and Hawaiian) but most of the "Tiki" pieces are marked as "Hawaiian Inspired" on the bottom. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917, he trained and danced with the Cleveland Ballet as a teenager. He attended Western Reserve School of Art. He moved to New York City to pursue his artistic hopes, supporting himself as a department store window dresser. By age 22, he had had a successful show of his terra cottas and had sold items to some of the most prestigious museums in New York. Soon after the U.S. entry into World War II, he joined the Army Air Corps and was assigned first as a designer and then as a performer to the Air Force show "Winged Victory," in which he stopped the show with his impression of Carmen Miranda, an act he repeated in the film version. His work in "Winged Victory" landed him a postwar contract with 20th Century Fox, and he designed costumes, coincidentally, for Carmen Miranda. In 1947, he opened his own decorative ceramic factory in Los Angeles, a successful endeavor that lasted until an emotional breakdown resulted in Brastoff's departure (though the company continued for years producing his designs under his name). The remainder of his life was spent in various design activities, primarily in jewelry and sculpture. Brastoff died in 1993 of prostate cancer.