The Life and Times of Mrs. Beasley

Hello, Friends!  I’m so happy to be here with you today!  I have been working on some research that I hope you will enjoy.  Today we are going to briefly go over the life and times of Mrs. Beasley.  Grab a cup of coffee/tea and “Let’s Talk Dolls…”

Mrs. Beasley has had a very long and eventful life, especially considering that she was only a toy on a TV show that only aired for 5 years, the last of which was 42 years ago!  The TV show was “Family Affair”.  It began in 1966 when I was 8 years old.  I loved this show and was very faithful to tune in weekly to see the latest adventures of Buffy, Jody, and Mrs. Beasley.   Family Affair was an American comedy series that aired on CBS from 1966 to 1971 and Mrs. Beasley doll was the favorite doll of Buffy (played by Anissa Jones).  The sitcom explored the trials of the well-to-do engineer and bachelor Bill Davis as he attempted to raise his brother’s orphaned children in his luxury NYC apartment.  Davis’ traditional English gentleman’s valet, Mr. Giles French, also had adjustments to make as he became saddled with the responsibility of caring for 15-year-old Cissy and the six-year-old twins, Jody and Buffy.

The Mrs. Beasley doll was Buffy’s security blanket and confidant who listened to all her problems. 

A little history on Mrs. Beasley…she began life as a Rushton “Jill” doll (yes as in Jack and Jill).  somewhere along the way, the doll changed to the Mrs. Beasley we know and love made by Mattel.  In today’s world, Mattel would have to license the look of Rushton’s Jill or find themselves in a law suit.  I guess things just weren’t as complicated then.

The full size Mrs. Beasley is 21″ and is a pull string talker.   Mrs. Beasley wore a blue dress/pants with white polka-dots, yellow shoes, and a pair of black square-rimmed glasses.   She says 11 different phrases, like “Do you want to try on my glasses?”  Her voice was by an actress named Georgia Schmidt, who people remember mostly as the first Talosian on Star Trek.  The pull string talking doll was produced for several years, beginning in 1967.  She actually outlived the show she was from!  Mrs. Beasley was so popular that she was sold in several other forms, including paper dolls, a non-talking rag doll version with yarn hair, complete with removable clothing that was fully washable, and finally a smaller Beasley that came with a 10″ talking Buffy doll and a 4″ Mrs. Beasley.  (Maureen McCormick of THE BRADY BUNCH fame loaned her voice to the doll’s voice box).  There was also a 6″ non-talking , bendable Buffy with a 3″ Mrs. Beasley.   By the way, Buffy had the same head as the Mattel Small Talk dolls.  [source: Wikipedia]

The phrases of Mrs. Beasley were recorded onto small records and included the following:

  • It would be such fun to play jump rope, don’t you think?
  • Do you want to hear a secret? I know one.
  • Gracious me, you’re getting to be such a big girl.
  • Speak a little louder dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.
  • I do think you’re the nicest little friend I ever had.
  • If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?
  • If you were a little smaller, I could rock you to sleep.
  • You may call me Mrs. Beasley.  Would you like to play?
  • Long ago I was a little girl just like you!
  • Would you like to try on  my glasses? You may if you wish. 

The smaller Mrs. Beasley dolls that were produced at the time came with removable glasses.  That removable factor is why you almost never see one of the small Mrs. Beasley dolls with glasses.  The larger ones were hard enough to keep track of, as evidence that they are few and far between too.  When I was searching to find my Mrs. Beasley doll to go with my Talking Tandy doll (which resembles Buffy so much that she is also called Buffy), I almost never found a Mrs. Beasley  doll with her glasses! 

Unfortunately, Mattel never made a doll of Buffy’s twin brother, Jody.  I especially liked him because he had RED curly hair.  Maybe Mattel just wasn’t up to that yet….?

Even though Family Affair ended in 1971, Mrs. Beasley continued to be produced until 1972.  And apparently even longer…..In 2000 Ashton Drake manufactured a new Mrs. Beasley doll based on the original Mattel version.  She didn’t have quite the appeal that the Mattel version had. Her voice had even been rerecorded by Cheryl Ladd.  She’s a Charlie’s Angel, not an old lady…many a Mrs. Beasley fan from the original show didn’t find quite the warmth and comfort that the original doll had. 

After the “success” of the new Beasley, Ashton Drake produced a porcelain and the “Me and Mrs. Beasley” doll set.  (I have mine pictured here in this post.). The set contained a cute Buffy doll with a mini Beasley and a tiny reproduction of the Family Affair lunch box!  They also made  a blown glass character ornament. 

A Mrs. Beasley doll value and Price Guide for 2022 just in case you’re interested….

  • Original Canadian Mrs. Beasley $349.00
  • Barbie Buffy (NRFB) $359.99
  • Original Mrs. Beasley 1967 $311.00

So, that’s the story of Mrs. Beasley and her claim to fame.  I hope you enjoyed this post.   The photos used in this post were taken by me and the dolls belong to me.  

Until the next post, stay safe, stay well, and be kind to one another!

Hugs to you all,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

The Bannister Babies

 Hello, fellow doll collectors!  I hope you are enjoying the summer!  Have you recently taken in any good estate sales or flea markets for doll finds?  I have recently come across a doll that I have fallen in love with and today I want to share a little information about her origins.   So grab a cool drink and “let’s talk dolls” for just a few minutes…..

I am always scouring the doll market looking for something I may have previously missed.  Do you do that?  Recently, I found a doll that I hadn’t seen before.   She had such a sweet face and the moulded hair, which by the way, has become a new favorite with me.  I flipped her over to see the maker’s name on her neck.  That’s the first place to look to find out who made the doll be it a vintage or modern doll.  I could barely make out the letters….the dim overhead lights and my aging eyes weren’t giving me much aid in deciphering the tiny inscription.  I got a little closer to the window where the light was a little brighter.  The last name appeared to be a little clearer: Bannister.  I spent a while looking the doll over and finally turned her over again and the name was finally clearer to me: Constance Bannister.  That wasn’t a maker I was familiar with like Madame Alexander or Effanbee.  Those names show up quite frequently.  

She was a cute little pink baby doll with red fever cheeks, sleep eyes that opened and closed, moulded curly brown hair, and she wore a cotton robe that desperately needed a good soaking.  She was a little dirty (no, it was a lot dirty) but she did have all her fingers and toes!  I wasn’t yet sure if I would purchase her, but I was certainly curious about who this Constance Bannister person was and why had I not encountered that name on a doll previously.  So I went on a quest in search of her, and what I found out was very enlightening. 

Bannister was a photographer, very well-known in the 1940s and 50s for her photographs of babies.  She had come YEARS before the famed Anne Geddes captured a diverse group of babies as flowers, animals, and arranging them in unusual surroundings.  

The baby doll I was presently looking at was made by the Sun Rubber Co. which apparently took advantage of the photographer’s fame in the 1950s by making a doll in the image of her babies.  I am very familiar with Sun Rubber dolls as they are amongst my favorites, so I felt as though progress was being made as to who Bannister really was….She was one of more than 10,000 female photographers of this era, with numbers increasing after WWII, according to the book “A History of Women Photographers,” published in 2010 by Naomi Rosenblum.

Born in Tennessee, Bannister moved to New York as a teenager in the 1930s to attend photography school, after which she got her first job with the Associated Press in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the website maintained by her daughter Lynda.  Bannister returned to New York and began working for the Chicago Tribune, shooting shows headed from Broadway to the Windy City on road tours.  She also opened a studio near Central Park and was a photographer for  the Ice Capades and the ballet.  

Later, she started photographing babies in diapers, taking more than 100,000 photos and becoming famous worldwide.   Now mind you this was prior to the age of digital photography.  These photos became known as “Bannister Babies,” and she wrote cute and humorous captions to go with the photos.  These photos of adorable babies in diapers accompanied by amusing captions became her signature.  They could be seen in books, magazines, calendars, and on posters, billboards and TV shows, according to the website.  They even sold war bonds during WWII.  During WWII, the Bannister Baby Posters helped sell War Bonds and contributed her service to the USO by doing camera stories.  No one thought of “pin up babies” until Miss Bannister tried a few.  One of her baby pictures which had been reproduced in a national magazine was found in the possession of a German soldier captured by the U.S. infantry group.  “The March of Time” featured the incident in one of its films, and thereafter, Miss Bannister was firmly established as a baby photographer.

The baby pictures have appeared on TV, Garry Moore Show, Perry Como Show, Frank Sinatra Show, Steve Allen Show, Ernie Kovacs Show, Jack Parr Show, and the Joey Bishop Show.  Her baby pictures have appeared so frequently and with such wide distribution that the name “Constance Bannister” had become synonymous with babies.  Jack Parr titled her “Constance Bannister – World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer.”

Babies by Bannister have been printed in advertising campaigns  in many different languages and have traveled the world many times.  Her comic strip “Baby Banters” was a popular twice weekly syndicated feature for six years to approximately 50 newspapers.  A line of “Bannister Baby” dolls were produced in the 1950s.  

It goes without saying that I purchased that Bannister Baby that very day and have since purchased several.  They are very difficult to find.  The doll has a very special look to her, but became even more so after I knew more of the history behind her.   The photos pictured in this blog post were made by me and are of my dolls in my private collection.  (BTW, the picture of the trio has yet to be cleaned up.). The photo of the doll’s neck reads “Constance Bannister – New York, New York.”  Lower down her back are her Sun Rubber manufacturer’s marks.  The beautiful doll in the photo alone is the first I purchased and she has been restored.  It is so easy to love her…just look at that precious face! 

This small bit of information is only a slight bit of the wonderful stories behind the Bannister Babies.  I am very happy that this little doll’s sweet face and endearing looks pulled me in that day and I made a purchase that I have enjoyed so very much!  My Constance Bannister doll ranks right up there with my Gerber Baby doll – both being manufactured by Sun Rubber Co.  I hope you have enjoyed this post and will be in search of your own Banister Baby….

Until next time we are together to talk dolls, stay well, be safe, and most of all be kind to one another.  I love you all and appreciate you taking the time to read the BabyBoomerDolls blog. 

Big hugs to you,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

 

**All photos in this post were taken by me and all dolls belong to me**

Are You Stopping to Smell the Roses?

Hello!  I’m happy that you are here with me today!  Are you having a busy June so far?  Here in the United States, this is the time of year where life is a flurry of summer activities.  Usually by this time of the month, I have already made the blog post for this month.  I’m sorry to be late!  While usually we “talk dolls”, I have things on my mind that I wish I had paid attention to earlier in life.  Hopefully, by putting them down in writing and sharing them with you, it will draw my attention to them more frequently and cause me to realize their importance.  With that having been said – let’s get started! 

I have been given so many blessings in my lifetime.  Yes, there have been ups and downs just like everyone else, but in retrospect I can look back and see the blessings even though at the time they may not have looked that way to me.  I could list them and this post would go on for a very long time, but that isn’t what this is about today.  I am a person who wants to squeeze every minute from every day.  I don’t want to miss a thing!  When I get older, I don’t want to look back and think “I wish I had done that…” 

As a young woman, I thoroughly enjoyed the phase of having a young family and all the busyness that went with those years.  The ballgames, the track meets, the piano lessons, the dance recitals, the 4H meetings,  church activities, and the list was endless as the years quickly flew by.  Before I realized it, my children were driving and life was changing and we were entering a new phase.  That’s good….change is good….

Soon it was dating and high school proms and college exams and applications and seeing my babies walk across the stage at their high school graduations.  Still, I was very focused on meeting the needs of my family.  Not to mention, there was also a 9 to 5 job thrown into this mix.  Soon, they were off to college, yet more changes in store.  Still, change is good and I am a very focused person and very determined to get the task at hand completed to the best of my ability.  Life quickly moves on and my children are married with families of their own.  More change…

For me, being a grandmother was  (is) the best job I have ever had!  All the FUN without as many of the responsibilities!  Once again, I found myself at dance recitals, plays, and all the activities that young children are involved in.  Of course, I was a proud grandmother and I didn’t want to miss a moment of these wonderful years.  I wanted them to know that Papaw and I were there cheering them on and enjoying life with them!  We have always been a close knit family and this sense of togetherness is important.

That wonderful time of life called retirement finally approaches! Yes, life is a little slower pace, but my mind still races to look after those I love and to get all I can out of each and every day.  I always giggled at those folks who said they were busier after retirement than they were before.  It is TRUE!  But it is a different kind of busy.    I enjoy the big family gatherings and the buzz of laughter and children in the house.  After all, Isn’t this how it is supposed to be?  Isn’t this the way I have always gone at life?  Indeed, it is.  (Granny was good with her sage advice – she always said I went at life as though I was killing snakes!) LOL!  I guess maybe I did. 

I remember my Granny telling me many times in my younger years to slow down and smell the roses along the way and to enjoy the trip.  I thought I was doing exactly that.  And I was – except it was always for someone else.  I didn’t take the time to enjoy life  for myself.  I worked what I wanted to do into the schedule when there was a few minutes to spare.  No, I have not resented it, but I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the “me time”.  

As women, I think we are programmed to do for others, for  being caregivers,  and seldom taking enough time for ourselves.  I’m sure this is also true for men.  They are busy making their way in the world and taking care of their families.  

During this  present stage in life, minor health concerns and just general slowing down have caused me to realize something very important.  I always thought that I would get around to enjoying those things, there would be time later on when the kids were older.  For every change that occurred, there was quickly something filling up that time slot in my life and it wasn’t working out to be that “me time” I spoke of earlier.   

So…after FINALLY waking up and smelling the coffee, I have made some changes in my life.  I have vowed to live with the attitude of taking advantage of more “me time”.  I am not short changing anyone in the process, but I am a much more relaxed and happy person because I have realized the importance of doing for myself other than just squeezing myself into the busy schedule. 

Friends, I have found out that I love to restore antique furniture, to sit down and embroidery, to enjoy that extra cup of coffee while watching the birds at the bird feeders.  So many things that I just didn’t think I had the time for before, I now be sure to take the time for.  This was a problem of my own making while all the time I was sure I was enjoying the journey.  Now, I take the time to refresh and to ENJOY the trip.  I take time for me.  You know how much I adore restoring old dolls and giving them a second opportunity.  I feel like I have also been shown that I need to slow down and enjoy so that I won’t have as many of those things left on my list as time goes on that I wish I had done and simply didn’t take the time for myself to enjoy them. 

After all these years, I am taking Granny’s advice and doing the things I enjoy, too.  I restore dolls, refinish antique furniture, I’m learning to paint, I embroidery more, I garden because I enjoy it – not because it needs to be done.  Again, change is GOOD!  This change is now becoming a way of life me.  My life had previously been about doing for everyone else and that was good.  Now, it is also about doing for me and that is BETTER for me and those around me.  How about you?  Do you take care of yourself and enjoy the journey?  Make it a practice while you’re younger – even if it is just 15 minutes a day.  Take the long bubblebath rather than the quick shower.  Enjoy life!  We only get one shot at it! 

Next month I promise to go back to the format of talking dolls as we usually do here!  I just felt it important to remind each of us to take the time for ourselves that we deserve even when it seems like we can’t spare 60 seconds.  Until next time, stay well, be happy, and most importantly be kind to one another.

Hugs,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

The Era of Modern Dolls


Hello, friends!   I’m happy you’re here today!  May has FINALLY arrived and I hope it is warmer where you call home than it was when we were together in April.   Today we are going to talk briefly  about the era of modern dolls, so….”Let’s Talk Dolls”!

 

Some American composition dolls made in the early twentieth century were thought to be almost revolutionary at the time, however, the real “modern” era in the history of dolls begins in the 1940s – the decade that saw plastics boom and the move to production on a massive scale.  Yet, not all modern dolls are plastic, nor are they mass-produced.  

World War II had a major impact on the doll industry in Europe.  Suddenly most production ceased where an industry had been built up over centuries.  When peace did at last return, it brought with it revolutionary new plastics which were developed to help the war effort and were now available for all manner of applications.  

 

Plastics were light, strong, and easily moulded into an infinite variety of forms.  The new plastic material required new equipment and new technologies for production.  Initial investment costs were high,  but manufacturers found that they could produce millions of dolls that were all identical,  or even create a range of dolls based on the same basic model, making only minor modifications to give each doll its charismatic features.  Plastic dolls of the 1940s are vastly different than those of today.  They were made of hard plastic and although they looked like the  composition dolls they largely replaced, they were more durable, lighter, and tougher.   Introduced in the mid 1950s was the polyethylene compounds aka vinyl.  It is a much more flexible material and available in both hard and soft forms.

 

The introduction of vinyl brought with it a whole new ballgame.  There was now a key difference in doll hair: whereas composition and hard plastic dolls had wigs or moulded and painted hair,  the use of vinyl allowed the hair to be “rooted”into the head. Facial features, hands and feet tend to be less moulded and more defined in these new vinyl dolls than those of their predecessors made from composition or hard plastic.  Most dolls today use a combination of vinyls in construction of the doll.  Soft vinyl is used for the head and limbs and hard vinyl for body.

Strong competition and financial difficulties have forced the closure of many of the small individual companies that survived the war years.  Today most doll companies belong to giant corporations.  They have been forced to merge or to close down completely.  

 

In contrast to large corporate enterprise, doll making still survives as a cottage industry to this day.  Across the world, dolls can still be found created in the traditional methods.  Only a few of each model are produced and wood or other natural materials take the place of the modern synthetics.  These dolls are usually classified as art dolls and are meant to be displayed rather than played with as toys.  

 

The popularity of modern dolls seems to be much more fleeting that that of their predecessors.  New models come and go continually as the power of advertising, the influence of the media particularly television and movies encourage the fads and fashions that seem to change almost overnight.  

 

While the charm of many traditional dolls guarantees their continuing appeal, novelty dolls are very much in demand.  The great commercial successes of the age are the “dressing” dolls, especially not only those complete with clothing but also with every conceivable accessory.  I continue to be amazed by this!  Mattel’s Barbie truly embodies this “more is better” philosophy of today’s society.  Per Forbes, one billion Barbies have been sold (this is an estimate) since her debut in 1959.  Barbies have been sold world wide in over 150 countries.  Mattel makes the claim that three Barbie dolls are sold every second.  They also claim to have more than 170 types of dolls with different skin tones and hair styles.  Barbie has managed to change with the times over the past 60 years and to still be going strong! 

 

There are always going to be doll collectors and everyone will always like/want to collect what appeals to them personally.  With that having been said, there will always be appeal and value to either the early composition dolls down to the truly modern dolls of today.  I tend to lean toward collecting the dolls I played with as a child, but my oldest granddaughter believes that I need to add a few American Girl dolls into the mix of my collection which is fine with me.  It gives us a common ground on which to talk doll collecting, AND I love all dolls!  

 

I hope you have enjoyed this brief synopsis of the evolving of the modern dolls.  Until we are together again, stay safe, stay well, and above all be kind to one another!

 

Hugs,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

 

 

Let’s Play Paper Dolls!

 

Hello and welcome to BabyBoomerDolls blog!  I’m glad you’re here!  I live in the Mid-west United States.  Here the weather can’t decide if it is still winter or welcoming spring.  At this point, I have decided that Mother Nature is indeed very fickle!  I am so ready for some warm sunshine and dry weather!  The nights are still in the low 30s here.  I hope wherever it is that you call home the weather is more pleasant than it has been here in recent weeks.

Dolls have always been a first love for me.  I love collecting dolls and learning all I can about them.  I am a baby boomer myself, and grew up in a time where there wasn’t always money for the beautiful dolls in the store windows.  Oftentimes, they were only dreams on my wish list.  That wish list was usually confined to Christmas and Birthdays, so you had lots of time to think over which doll was the very best.   However, today we are going to briefly chat about dolls that are often overlooked….paper dolls!  More times than not, paper dolls were a nice substitute for those dolls in the department store windows and still had all the pretty outfits and hours of endless play and imagination for me.    So, let’s get started and “Let’s Talk Dolls”!

Paper dolls are a generations-old toy.  Dress -up paper dolls owe their origins to 18th century France.  At that time, they often had moveable limbs and were akin to puppets.  A London company produced the first commercially available paper doll in 1810. The product appeared in American two years later.  Did you have any idea that paper dolls had entertained children for that many years?  Neither did I until I began to dig into the subject!  

The biggest American producer of paper dolls, the McLoughlin Brothers, was founded in early 1800 and was sold to Milton Bradley in the 1920s.  It was around this time that paper dolls really began to catch on in the USA and then grew in popularity in the decades to follow. 

Paper dolls are figures cut from paper or thin card stock, with separate clothes which are also made from paper that are usually held onto the dolls by folding tabs.  Paper dolls have been inexpensive children’s toys for almost two hundred years.  Today, many artists are turning paper dolls into an art form.  I have several framed paper dolls in my doll room that I have embellished with ribbons, lace, etc. so that I can enjoy them rather than keeping them stored away where they can neither be seen or enjoyed.  There are those who would argue that this is not the best way to preserve the paper doll, but for me, it is the way to be able to enjoy them daily.  

 

Paper dolls have been used for advertising, and  appeared in both magazines and newspapers.  Today, they have become highly sought- after collectibles.  This is especially true as vintage paper dolls become rarer due to the limited lifespan of paper objects.  Paper dolls are still being created today.  

Paper dolls have regained popularity with young children featuring popular characters and celebrities.  there are also online and virtual paper dolls where the users are able to drag and drop images of clothes onto images of dolls or actual people.  While this is wonderful, I am still old school and I still to this day enjoy the cutting out of the doll and the accessories from the paper doll book.

The first manufactured paper doll was “Little Fanny”, produced by S&J Fuller, London in 1810.  “The History and Adventures of Little Henry,” by J Belcher, was the first American toy that included paper dolls.  Published in 1812, this book prompted children to act out various scenes with the paper doll that were included in the book.  Around 1920 paper dolls became popular in the USA and then grew in popularity in the following decades.  The rise of paper doll production in the mid 19th and 20th centuries was partly due to technological advances that made printing significantly  less expensive.  Movie stars and celebrities became the focus in the early days of paper dolls in the USA.  Paper dolls are still produced today and Whitman and Golden Co. still publish paper dolls.  

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Vintage paper dolls with hand-painted artwork are becoming increasingly rare due to paper aging issues.  they have become collectible, and the prices for mint sets can range from $100 to over $500 for a sought after title.  I find this amazing as I have recently purchased paper dolls that I had as a child and while I thought them pricey in the $30-50 price range, I can’t imagine purchasing paper dolls for over $500!  I guess that is because I still have visions of my younger sisters tearing the head off the doll or the tabs off the clothing and my mother using scotch tape to repair them  and trying to convince me that they were as good as new…….

I can remember taking a quarter to Kresge’s Dime Store and staring intently at all the paper doll books.  Picking just the right one was always such a difficult decision.  I  remember taking my choice to the front of the store where the check out lady was and carefully placing my paper doll book on the counter so as not to bend the edges of the book  along with my quarter and intently pushing the quarter toward  the nice lady.  I was always so pleased that I had paid for the paper doll myself.  I then proceeded to take my new treasure home and spend countless hours, sometimes days, carefully cutting out each piece and dressing the paper doll for hours.  It was pretty good entertainment for a quarter!  This still allowed me to have some form of those lovely baby dolls in the department store windows.  

 

Many of us have spent innumerable hours using our imaginations and playing with those wonderful paper dolls.  I have included a few photos of some of my collection.  While they are not the pricey dolls mentioned above, they are dolls I remember from childhood.  In my eyes, that is what counts.  I like something that I can relate to and that brings back fond memories (except for those incidents where my little sisters got hold of them).  LOL!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this brief piece on paper dolls.  They still remain a favorite in my heart.  I currently have a piece I am working on with a vintage paper doll and I enjoy every minute of it!  Until we are together the next time, stay well and above all be kind to one another!  

Hugs, 

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

Chatty Cathy

Hello! I’m so glad you are here!  It is already March!  I feel as though I’ve not yet got reorganized from Christmas….anyone else have that feeling?  Wherever you live, I hope you are beginning to see signs of spring and renewal.  It has been cloudy, cold, and rainy for the past couple of weeks.  I am soooo happy to see the sun shining! 

Thank you so much for your emails and DMs on the last blog post!  I’m always happy to know your thoughts and feelings on the blog.  It is a work in progress, and sometimes the learning curve gets steep. LOL!  

So, “Let’s Talk Dolls” for just a minute or two.  I have noticed Chatty Cathy showing up in more and more collections.  I have seen more for sale.  Chatty Cathy must be on the upswing for the spring!  Did any of you have a Chatty Cathy as a child?  I did and I loved her mainly because she could talk!!!  That was just the coolest thing EVER to me!  I still have mine although she is by no means in minty condition.  Her condition is well loved.  

Chatty Cathy is a pull string “talking” doll that was originally created by Ruth and Elliot Handler and manufactured by the Mattel toy company from 1959 to 1965.  Cathy was depicted as a 5 year old girl.  Originally her hair was a short blonde bobbed style and she had big, blue eyes.  Brunette  and auburn haired versions of the doll were introduced in 1962 and 1963, respectively.  An African American version of Cathy with brown skin was produced in those same years.  In 1963, her hair was re-styled into what Mattel called “long twin ponytails”, aka pig tails.  The Mattel catalogs made the claim that Chatty Cathy and all the other Cathy dolls had go to sleep eyes.  

Although Cathy’s mouth did not move, her lips were slightly parted to give the appearance of talking.  Cathy “spoke” one of eleven phrases at random when the ring protruding from her upper back was pulled.  The ring was attached to a simple string connected to a simple phonograph record inside the cavity behind the doll’s abdomen.  The record was driven by a metal coil wound by pulling the doll’s ring.  (no batteries needed!)  The voice unit was designed by Jack Ryan, Mattel’s head of research and development.  

The doll originally had eleven phrases when it came on the market in 1960 such as “I love you”, “I hurt myself”, or “Please take me with you”.  Seven more phrases such as, “Let’s play school” or “May I have a cookie?” were added to the doll’s repertoire in 1963 for a grand total of 18 phrases.  Legendary cartoon voice actress June Foray recorded these phrases for the 1960s version of Chatty Cathy.  

In 1960, a child had the choice of one of two outfits for their doll.  One outfit had a blue dress with a white eyelet overblouse , panties, crinoline, blue shoes and white socks, and the other dress had a red velvet headband, red sunsuit with a red pinafore with an overskirt of white voile, red shoes and white socks.  Other accessories accompanying the doll were a story and comic book, shoehorn, and a paper wrist tag that was also a numbered warranty card.  The doll and its accompanying accessories were advertised at less than $20.

In 1961, the red dress was discontinued, and replaced by a pink and white striped dress with a white pinafore called “Pink Peppermint Stick”.  This dress was available until 1964.  1961 also saw the introduction of six extra outfits available separately.  They had names like “Party Dress”, “Nursery School Dress”,  “Sleepytime Pajamas”,  “Playtime Shorts set,” and “Party Coat”.  The outfits “Sunday visit Dress” and “Sunny Day Capri Short set” came out in 1963.  

This is a brief history of Chatty Cathy’s beginnings.  My Chatty Cathy is the blonde.  While I think she’s lovely, I always wanted the redhead dolls because they looked like me.  I was so pleased to have the blonde, but the redhead never came my way.  Maybe someday……

*The photos in this blog were made by me of my personal Chatty Cathy. *

We have talked dolls about one of the very first talking dolls.  I hope you have enjoyed it.  Please share this blog with a friend.  Enjoy your dolls, stay well, and above all be kind to one another.

Hugs,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDoll

Is there a RIGHT way? Is there a WRONG way?

Hello and Happy February!! I can’t believe that January has already slipped by….I hope the weather where you are is better than it has been here the past week.  We have had sleet, freezing rain, snow, wind, and below zero temperatures.  Like many of you reading this, we have run the gambit.  While it has been pretty, I am ready to move on to spring weather.  How about you?  I’m ready to trade my snow shovel for a shovel to play in the dirt with!

I’m sure you are curious about the title of this post.  I have collected dolls for many years and I didn’t know until it was brought to my attention recently that there was a right way and a wrong way to do so – and I was doing it the wrong way!  I had NO idea!   Seriously? I was intrigued by the logic of this thinking, so I thought I would share it with you.  This is totally off the path from what I had planned for this post, but it just seemed too good not to share.  So – here goes!

I am not going to tell you there is a right and a wrong way to collect dolls, just simply because I don’t believe that there is such a thing.  Obviously, there are those who do, and I am totally okay with that (for them), but I don’t appreciate them placing their thought process upon my collection.   There are those who believe you should collect only one brand of doll.  That’s fine!  I have several of the same brand….I have Madame Alexander, Ideal, Allied Eastern, and Eegee just to mention a few.  But my collection is not solely composed of one brand.  I was informed that I should choose only one brand and stay with that brand.  It was perfectly fine to collect various dolls within that brand.  Hmmmm….

If that wasn’t an option for me, then possibly I should choose just one doll and collect the different versions of that doll.  That’s fine, too.  I have Patti Playpal dolls, Gerber babies, Cissy dolls (both vintage and modern), Thumbelina dolls, Kewpie dolls, and the list continues.  Again, I didn’t seem to be forming my collection in the way they thought I should be.  By this time, I am seeing that there may be several “right” ways to collect dolls.

Now while these methods may hold true for many other types of collections and collectors, somehow it didn’t seem right for me personally.   Me being me, I proceeded to question them on this method of collecting.  Somehow in the back of my mind, all I could think about  was that my spouse is a die-hard General Motors guy.  If he is going to trade trucks, he automatically goes to the GM dealer.  That seemed to stick to the methods that were being presented here.  But I am not purchasing a truck, I collect dolls.

In my humble opinion, doll collecting is a joy.  It is a wonderful hobby which brings a daily smile to my face and often challenges me and stretches my abilities as I begin to restore them.  For me, that restoration process is as much fun as the hunt for that special doll.  Those who are collecting the “right” way look at their collection as an investment.  Well, that’s fine.  I always thought something was considered an investment only if you intended to sell it and make a profit from it.  Yes, someday my collection will either be left to my grandchildren or sold when I am beyond the point of properly caring for the dolls or have made my permanent residence in Heaven.  But until then, my dolls are pure enjoyment for me and those I choose to share them with.

Opposing opinions are a wonderful thing.  They cause us to think and to reason out what is best for us personally in this particular case.  While I am more than happy to listen to their thoughts, that doesn’t mean I am going to change my way of thinking about my collection and part with the dolls I love and enjoy so very much.  There are many collectors in the world that collect so many different types of dolls.  Those dolls are all beautiful to their collectors.  Maybe I don’t always understand it, but that isn’t important.  What is important is that I understand the value that doll has to that collector.  Perhaps it was handed down through their family, perhaps made for them when they were a child.  All dolls have their own stories and should be respected by others.  I have dolls that would mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, but because of the back story behind that doll I wouldn’t part with it for anything.  They have become a part of me.  I’m sure there are those of you who have similar dolls in your possession.

This right/wrong discussion went on for over an hour.  I love to play the devil’s advocate in these type situations, so I was enjoying listening to their thought process.  While I would never tell them that they are wrong, I would openly say that their methods are not for me personally.  Although in their opinions, I am not collecting my dolls in the right way, I will not be changing my methods.

I collect what is beautiful to me.  I collect dolls that remind me of childhood times.  I collect dolls that were handed down through my family.  I collect dolls that in my eyes have a story to tell but also have more to share once restored and brought back to a version of their glory days.  I collect dolls that “speak” to me.  Maybe you didn’t hear them speak, but I did (giggle).   In short, I am going to collect what makes me happy.  Someday, they make someone else happy also.

Let me ask you….how do you collect dolls?  There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Our collections are all as individual as we are as people.  I think that is as it should be.  I don’t believe anyone has justification in openly telling someone that what they are collecting and the method they are using is wrong.  If the methods are different, that’s great!  Even our differences can be enjoyed by others.  The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all alike, in my opinion.  We are all our own individual just as our collections are individualized.  The doll community, for the most part, is a wonderful, welcoming place. In a world where this isn’t always the case, maybe we should remember that in a world where you can be anything you want to be, the very best thing is above all to be kind…

I hope your February is good!  Stay well, be happy, and  be kind to one another!

Hugs to you all,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

TV Patti Playpal

Hello Friends!  Happy 2022 to you and yours!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  I am glad you are here today to read the latest  post of the BabyBoomerDolls blog.  Today we are going to look at a doll that seems to have a mystery surrounding her.

I recently restored this Ashton-Drake Galleries TV Patti Playpal.  I have posted photos of her on my IG account which I will also post here.   Given her name (TV Patti) and the brief history provided on her, she has raised some questions.  I will try to give you more information on her in this post.  This lovely Patti Playpal is known as “TV Patti” because apparently Ideal never actually put her into production!  She was in the television ads but not produced for sale.  This seems to remain a mystery as to why…..

This doll pictured here was manufactured by Ashton-Drake Galleries and is known as TV Patti Playpal Doll.

This Patti stands over 35″ tall and is simply amazing in her detail.   She is a collectible vinyl doll.  She has a moveable head, shoulders, and hips.  Her eyes are a beautiful, vibrant  shade of blue and are sleep eyes.  She has long, brush lashes.     She has beautiful long blonde rooted hair and a soft porcelain looking complexion.  She originally was outfitted in a pink flowered dress which was a two piece dress and pinafore set.  The skirt of the dress had a half slip sewn into it.  The white pinafore is trimmed with red and green rickrack.  I will include photos of her original clothing.    She wears black Mary Jane type shoes.

 

 

This beautiful doll is a reproduction of the classic Patti originally manufactured by Ideal.  However, the doll pictured here  was manufactured by Ashton-Drake Galleries.  She is marked on the back of her neck A.D.G. 06.  In the 2000s Ashton-Drake Galleries and Danbury Mint briefly revived the production of the Playpal dolls.

 

Her COA reads:  upon the retirement of this issue, no more of this edition of  TV Patti Playpal will ever be produced.  Once the edition is retired, it will never be reopened.  She is truly a collectible!  She is now  one of those HTF dolls.  I did some research and there are a few still out there to be purchased.

While I always keep a doll’s original clothing, I don’t always leave them in it forever…which is the case here.  When I restored her, I put her hair back into the original style.  I chose to redress her and give her a little more personality rather than the ADG personality she came with….

There are vintage television ads on the internet that feature a doll that looks quite similar to this ADG doll.  There is not a lot of information on this doll to be found.  I hope what little I could find will be of interest to you.

Until we can be together again to “Talk Dolls”, stay well and be kind to one another.

Hugs to all,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

 

Are Your Dolls a Part of Your Christmas Decorating?

Hello!! Happy December!  For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a lovely day.  I’m happy you’re here today!  We are going to talk for a few minutes about Christmas decorating and how or if you use your dolls to decorate.  So….”Let’s Talk Dolls”….grab your coffee/tea and let’s get started.

My Madame Alexander 8″ dolls are frequently used in my decorating.  They are tiny enough that they make lovely little vignettes in smaller spots.  I not only use them at Christmas but all throughout the year for holiday decorating.  I will include a photo of some of my decorating with these little sweeties.  Do you use your small dolls for decorating?

Many of the dolls I collect are quite large, and they make some neat holiday displays.  Do you dress your dolls for the holidays?  There are just so many avenues to take when adding your dolls to the holiday mix!   And they never fail to bring a smile to our faces!

I have thought back to when I was a child and tried to remember dolls being used for Christmas decorating.  The first memory that I can recall is standing on the sidewalk with my hands and nose pressed against a cold, frosty store display window looking at the aluminum tree with the beautiful rainbow reflector changing the colors of the tree.  The fantastically gorgeous dolls in all sizes all wearing their Sunday best dresses.  There were doll buggies, doll strollers,  doll beds that the sides raised up and down, tiny little kitchens, tiny trunks full of beautiful little dresses…everything any little girl would ever want for her dolly.   I remember a tiny train making its way from one end of the window display to the other and back again.  While the little boy standing next to me was thrilled with the train and all the BB guns and the pedal cars, I was totally focused on those beautiful dolls with sleep eyes that opened and closed and their beautifully styled hair with the  big, colorful bows that matched their dresses perfectly.   There were dolls of all sizes,  from the tiniest that were no bigger than my hand  to the ones that were as big as I was at the time.  Some were displayed in beautiful boxes with the lid removed and the wrapping paper still on the bottom of the box.  Others were standing around the tree and “playing” with all the various toys scattered throughout the window display.  It was literally a magical scene to me as a little girl from a small town.  I wasn’t used to seeing store windows like this one!  There was a crowd gathering in front of the window and my Granny insisted that I allow someone else to have my spot and to share.  While I wasn’t thrilled about moving away from the window, I remember my Pap picking me up and holding me so that I could see above the crowd.  Turns out that I still had a good view of all the magical things happening in that window as my Pap was over six feet tall!  That is still such a wonderfully vivid memory for me.  That wonderful window was completely decorated with all those magnificent dolls and all their accouterments.  I believe that probably set some sort of precedence in my mind that it was totally okay to use dolls to decorate for Christmas.  I talked about that window for the longest time, so it definitely made an impression on me.

I have been seeing many Christmas scenes scattered about on Instagram and Pinterest.  I enjoy the vintage dolls with the vintage toys and decorations.  Such beautiful reminders of Christmas from the past.  I also see scenes with Barbie and her friends celebrating the holidays.  She always looks so beautiful and stylish.   I love to see the dolls all dressed in their Christmas attire.  I also enjoy sewing those dresses for my girls!  For me, half the fun of the holidays is the preparation and decorating.

Whether you have one doll or one hundred, it is fun to incorporate them into your holiday decorating.  I’ve heard it said that “Christmas is for kids.”  If that is the case, I don’t want to ever get too old to play with dolls.  How about you?

So how will your dolls spend this coming holiday season?  Will they be playing in the doll room,  or possibly wearing dresses that look alike, or will they be sitting under the tree as if Santa has left them there for you?  The possibilities are endless!  What are the possibilities that are percolating through your mind?

Have you started to decorate yet for Christmas or perhaps you are finished….either way, as doll collectors, we still view Christmas as through the eyes of a child because of our love for dolls.  We see something that those who are not  doll collectors often  miss.  It almost seems as though we are in on a secret of some sort…..

I will leave you with these thoughts and my views for incorporating my dolls into my personal holiday decorating and why I use them in the festivities of the decorations.  I’m sure you all have your own special reasons….whatever the reason,  ENJOY the season and remember why we celebrate this time of year.  After all….”its the most wonderful time of the year” as the song says…..

Be well and be kind to one another.

Big Hugs to each of you!

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

PS – Throughout  December I will be posting snippets of my decorating with my dolls on my Instagram account (@babyboomerdolls),  if you would like to take a peek.  I’m sure it will change over the next 24 days, so check back frequently! 🙂

Debbie Ann by Valentine Doll Company

Hello, Friends!  Can you believe it is November 2nd?  The holidays are right around the corner.  This is a busy time of year when our thoughts turn to family gatherings and decorating the house for the holidays.  But for just a brief moment – “Let’s Talk Dolls.”  Grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and spend some time reading about a doll with a very unique past.  Today we’re going to talk about Debbie Ann.

Debbie Ann is a rare and sought after treasure.  She was manufactured by the Valentine Doll Company,  which was later to become the Debbie Doll Company in the 50s and early 60s.  The Valentine Doll Company was a USA manufacturer of hard plastic and vinyl dolls.  They are best known for their ballerina dressed dolls of the 1950s which John Landers was responsible for.  Later he founded the Debbie Toy Company along with partner Shelly Greenburg, which made vinyl dolls named Debbie and a line of baby items.

Debbie Ann stands 30″ high, ( Playpal size) was manufactured in 1960, has  a hard vinyl face and arms, and plastic body and legs.  She is marked with a D.   In addition to being a child’s doll, these dolls were often used to display children’s clothing in department stores.  She has an adorable character face making her very similar to the Saucy Walker Playpal doll.  She has big eyes and brush lashes and painted lower lashes.  She has feathered eyebrows and closed pink watermelon smile, and rosy cheeks.  Her head has a slight forward tilt, making her look more lifelike.  She has molded hair which is very unusual for a doll of her size.  Mine has blonde hair, but I have also seen them with red hair.  Her molded hair made displaying hats and bonnets easy as well as dressing and undressing, and her hair never became a mess or required any attention.   This saved time for employees dressing the doll (mannequin) on which to model the children’s clothing.  Her body is very sturdy.  She models well.

She’s quite unique in that she was manufactired as  a child’s doll but could also be used as a mannequin in department stores.  Speculation has been made that she was The Debbie Toy Company’s answer to the popular Playpal dolls of the time.   She was light weight enough for a child to play with yet sturdy enough to be used as a model in department store windows.  She could easily wear children’s clothing and shoes.

 

Because of her history as either a doll or a mannequin or both, to find a Debbie Ann in good condition now is a very rare thing.  They are highly sought after by collectors.  Many times she is mistaken for a Saucy clone due to her smile.   She is a wonderful addition to a doll collection due to her multi functions.  Not much is known about this doll.

I’ve included several photos of my Debbie Ann for those of you who may not be familiar with her.   She’s a very unique doll and I am very pleased that she is a part of my private collection.  I’m also pleased that she is “low maintenance”…  Just as she was designed, she dresses quick and easily with no mussing of her hair.  I wouldn’t want all my large dolls to have molded hair, but she does add a nice variety to the group.                                          

I hope you have enjoyed this brief article on Debbie Ann.  When next we chat, Thanksgiving will be in the rear view mirror and we will be making out way towards Christmas!  Until then….I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you hold dear.

Big Hugs,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

Can you pick her out of a crowd?