Interview With Patti Playpal (Part IV)

Friends, can you believe Christmas is just a few days away? I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those of you who have followed this blog during our beginnings this year, but also to say thank you for your continued support in the coming year.  And to those of you who are here for the first time – WELCOME!  I’m glad you are here! 

As this year draws to a close, I am humbled by the interest shown in BabyBoomerDolls.  I am thankful for the new friendships made this year through social media.  I look forward to what the new year has in store for BabyBoomerDolls as there are many plans in the works even as I type this.  This is my passion and I couldn’t be more pleased to be able to share it with those of like mind…YOU!  

With that having been said, “Let’s Talk Dolls”….In this post we will complete our interview series with Patti Playpal. Let’s get started!

LYNN: Patti, we are so pleased that you are back with us again to wind up this series of interviews.  Thank you again for joining us and sharing your inside information on the Playpal series of dolls.

PATTI:  Thank you, Lynn.  I am so happy to have been here.  I hope everyone has enjoyed the information shared.   So, where shall we begin today?

LYNN: Patti, give us some information that might not be known about the Shirley Temple dolls, please.

PATTI:  Shirley Jane Temple was born in 1928.  She became the first child to win an Academy Award.  Over the decades, a parade of Shirley Temple dolls were made, but the first life-size Shirley Temples were made by Ideal during the Playpal years.  There were many variations, all with only slight differences.  Today, these dolls are respected by collectors. 

Like Pattite, the 19″ Shirley Temple, made by Ideal in the 1960s is a miniature version of her 36″ Playpal counterpart.  Today, she is valued at about $1000.

There was also an African American 36″ Shirley Temple doll made in the mid 1980s.  Only a very few of them were made and they were never put on the market.  No value has been established for this doll.  

In 1985, a reissue of the 36″ Shirley Temple was produced by Dolls, Dreams and Love, a company owned by a former Ideal employee, Hank Garfinkle.  

LYNN: Wow!  Those were some interesting, little known, facts….Moving forward, lets talk briefly about original TV and catalog ads and playsets.

PATTI: There was The Patti Playpal Game also by Ideal which is played similar to the Candyland game. In 1960-61 Gambles fall catalog offered a pink Rite Bite Steel Kitchen for Patti.  The entire kitchen sold for about $30.  A 1965 magazine ad for Grant’s Department store spotlighted companion dolls.  Little girls could get matching dresses for their companion dolls through the 1961 Wards Christmas Catalog. 

Saturday morning television commercials kindled and captivated the hearts, minds, and imaginations of America’s 1960s children. After watching weeks of these commercials, the dolls seemed to take on exaggerated prominence.  When you see a doll under YOUR Christmas tree that you have seen over and over again on television, well… know how that felt to those children. 

LYNN: Patti, were there other large dolls of this same era?

PATTI: The Lori Martin Doll (or Velvet Brown) – Every Sunday evening in the early 1960s, NBC-TV and Rexall presented MGM-TV’s “National Velvet.”  Lori Matin was the actress that played the lead role of Velvet Brown.  Her image appeared in TV Guide, coloring books, and  paper doll sets.  The doll made in her likeness is a sought after and pricey doll on today’s collector market.  The dolls were made around 1961 and came in 30, 36, 38, and 42″ sizes.  All these dolls are marked Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Ideal Toy Corp. 

Daddy’s girl by Ideal, a hard to find doll, came in two sizes, 42 and 38 inches.  The 38″ doll is extremely rare and is valued at about $300 MORE than the 42″ doll in the same condition.  This doll came in three hair colors being blonde, brunette, and auburn.  The auburn is the hardest to find.  

Then, there is one of everyone’s favorites – SAUCY WALKER.  She was made by Ideal in 1960.  She is an adorable doll that Playpal collectors seem to be very fond of.  MUCH different than her 1950s counterpart.  She is a winning combo of chubby cheeks and a smirk-ish grin.  She came in two sizes – 28″ and 32″.  The 32″ doll is sometimes referred to as the “Playpal Saucy Walker” by collectors.  Both dolls are marked Ideal.  In the 1960s Sears Wish Book, Saucy Walker was called “Chubby 2 Year Old,” and sold for $21.88 for the 32″ version and $18.88 for the 28″ version.  

Miss Ideal is jointed at wrists, above knees, and at waist.  She came in both 25 and 30″ sizes.  The hair color was dark blonde, but a very rare version was a platinum blonde.  She also came with a pretend “perm” kit! 

Bye Bye Baby was one of the life-sized baby dolls that Ideal made during the 1960s.  

Madame Alexander’s Joanie was made in 1960 and was dressed in a white nurse’s dress with a white apron and cap.   She was 36″ tall.   The Joanie Doll sold in the Sears 1960 catalog with an all steel nurse’s cart with 30 hospital play items for $28.88.  

Betsy McCall was 36″, marked McCall Corp, and appeared in 1959. She was easy to pick out of a crowd of companion dolls with that distinctive McCall turned up nose!  Soon to appear were Linda McCall and Sandy McCall.  

The Mary Jane Doll by Effanbee –  although she is not a Playpal doll, she has managed to turn heads of many Playpal collectors.  Her overall quality is above and beyond the great majority of Playpal look-alikes.  She is a 32″ vinyl walker with flirty eyes.  She was produced from 1959-62 and originally sold for about $20.  

Princess Peggy was Horsman’s answer to Patti Playpal. She was marketed from 1960 to 1966.  During those years, she had quite a variety of hair colors and styles – from bobs to ponytails.  She was also made in an African American version and was a walker.  Princess Peggy is marked “Horsman – 1959” on her head. 

The list could go on and on to include Little Miss Echo by American Character, Buffy, Betsy Wetsy by Ideal, Ideal Kissy, Mary Poppins by Horsman, Snow White, Little Orphan Annie issued by the Chicago Tribune/Daily News, Arranbee’s My Angel, Vogue’s Life-size Ginny, Goody Two Shoes, and the list goes on and on.  These are only a few of the Companion Dolls of that era.  

There are larger companion dolls (40″ or taller) have high values, even when they are unmarked, because they are harder to find, and collectors appreciate their uniqueness.  These dolls were often used a mannequins in children’s shops. 

LYNN:  My goodness! Patti, you certainly know your doll history.  Thank you so very much for sharing with us in these four interviews.  We have thoroughly enjoyed the information that you have provided.  Please come back again, soon.

PATTI:  Thank you so much for having me here and for your interest in both my Playpal family and other companion dolls of our era.  It was such a wonderful time in doll history!  But times now are just as special since the little girls that played with us when they were children are now seeking us out again as collector dolls!  We have a second opportunity to play and share the secrets with some of those same “little girls.”  After all, in some way, we are all children at heart and are touched by fond memories of favorite toys/dolls.  We are all happy to be a part of those memories!

From all of us at the Playpal family, we wish you a Merry Christmas! We would love to once again be under the Christmas tree for those who love and appreciate beautiful dolls. 

LYNN:  Yes, there are many of us collectors who would love to have that special doll under our Christmas trees.  The next time we are together will be a New Year.  There are so many plans in the works for the coming year.  I sincerely hope that you will join us on this journey!  Come join us in January and “Let’s Talk Dolls!”  See you soon!

Merry Christmas and Much Love from Lynn, Patti, and all the gang at BabyBoomerDolls!