Madame Alexander Dolls

Hello!  Can you believe that August is just around the corner?  I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.  Today I would like to briefly tell you of the history of Beatrice Alexander.  She was and remains one of the most renowned doll manufacturers of this century.

To generations of women Beatrice Alexander needs absolutely no introduction.  “It’s a Madame Alexander – That’s All You Need to Know” was the slogan printed on the boxes holding the prettiest and most beautifully dressed dolls.   The Alexander Company has produced many of the most beloved dolls of the century.  If you played with dolls, it is very likely that at least one of them was a Madame Alexander doll.

Beatrice Alexander Behrman was born on March 3, 1895, being the eldest of four daughters of a Russian immigrant who opened the first doll hospital in the United States.  Beatrice was artistic.  When WWI interrupted the import of bisque dolls from Germany, she seized the opportunity and designed and made Red Cross nurse dolls to be sold in her father’s shop.

In 1923, she founded the Alexander Doll Company and adopted the appellation Madame, giving her signature and her products the status that she made sure they deserved.  In the middle of the Great Depression, she secured exclusive rights to manufacture a set of authorized Dionne Quintuplet dolls.  Two years later, the film version of Gone With the Wind was made.  She designed and produced a Scarlett O’Hara doll because she loved the novel so much.  By the time the film was released, she had exclusive rights to manufacture the dolls.

Alexander’s dolls of the 1930s were made of composition .  She switched to plastic after WWII. The plastic dolls produced by the Alexander Doll Company during the 1950s are considered to be among the most beautifully designed and dressed dolls in the industry.

Alexander’s marvelous business sense and her energy was a renowned insistence on quality.  The costumes she designed and produced for her dolls were their defining element and still considered to be the best in the doll business.  All this, combined with her instinct for getting good publicity made her almost a legendary figure even outside the confines of the doll industry.  She was one of very few whose name was recognized as well as favored by the general public.


She went on to  be commissioned to make dolls commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of England in 1953.  The thirty-six dolls were magnificently dressed with every attention being paid to the smallest of details. Today, those dolls are the keystone of the doll collection of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York.  In 1965, on United Nations Day, Alexander was honored for her International Doll Collection.  These were a group of eight-inch dolls authentically dressed in the costumes of every member of the United Nations.  The dolls produced by the Alexander Doll Company are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.



However, the Alexander dolls are not yet relics.  After the death of Beatrice Alexander, at the age of 90, in 1990, the company floundered.  Five years later, it was purchased by and investment team, Kaizen Breakthrough Partnership.  At the factory, in Harlem, New York, more than 400 workers still produce dolls in the same hands-on way that they were made during Alexander’s peak years.

The main line of dolls is prized by collectors.  Doting grandmothers and mothers who are unable to part with their own Alexander dolls buy similar dolls for their children and grandchildren.  The company still prints the old slogan on the dolls’ boxes – “The Most Beautiful Dolls in the World Are by Madame Alexander.  Millions of men and women of all ages agree.

Madame Alexander dolls are among some of my very favorites.  How about you?  Are you a fan of the Alexander dolls? Do you still have one from when you were a child? I hope you have enjoyed this brief synopsis of Madame Alexander and her many accomplishments.  She has forever left her mark on the doll industry all over the world.

Please share this blog with a doll-loving friend and join us next time when we meet up here and “Let’s Talk Dolls.”

Hugs to All,







“It’s Howdy Doody Time!”

Yes, I am a Howdy Doody lover!!  I have been since I was a child.  My mother never misses an opportunity to share a story where she says I could be having a red headed fit (that’s her affectionate term for it), and I could hear the Howdy Doody program coming on the television and I would automatically shut down the “fit” and be all smiles.  I, personally, believe there is some exaggeration to her story, and it seems to become more graphic with every time she retells it, but she enjoys sharing her version if nothing more than to embarrass me.  LOL!

So let’s get started with the brief history of the iconic Howdy Doody.  Howdy Doody is an American children’s television program that was telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947, until September 24, 1960.  It was a pioneer in children’s television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows.  The show was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC (at that time owned by TV maker RCA) used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.  How’s that for marketing? What child wouldn’t want to see Howdy Doody in living color??

Buffalo Bob Smith created Howdy Doody during his days as a radio announcer on WNBC.  At that time Howdy Doody was only a voice Smith performed on the radio.  When Smith made an appearance on NBC’s television program Puppet Playhouse on December 27, 1947, the reception for the character was great enough to begin a demand for a visual character for television.  A puppeteer for the show was asked to create a Howdy Doody puppet.

To cut right to the chase, Howdy Doody was the all American boy, with his red hair, his Alfred E. Newman-like grin, and his forty-eight freckles (one for each state in the Union at the time of his creation), and his ears that seemingly stuck out the sides of his head far beyond normal.   All these things made him  just right for merchandising.  Soon there were Howdy Doody hand puppets, storybooks, coloring books, puzzles, craft sets, lampshades, dishes, masks, umbrellas, pail-and-shovel beach sets, bubblebaths, ukuleles, windup toys, shoe polish, and naturally DOLLS.

Almost as soon as Howdy Doody hit the airwaves, two companies nailed down licenses to manufacture Howdy Doodys.  The Ideal Toy Corporation and the Effanbee Doll Company produced a variety of Howdy Doodys.  The early dolls had composition heads and cloth bodies.  A feature of some of the dolls was a string at the back of the neck, which, when pulled would open and close Howdy Doody’s mouth.  Later, Howdy had a plastic head, blue or brown eyes that opened and closed, molded red or brown hair, a big nose, and stick out ears.  Both companies dressed Howdy Doody in pretty much the same outfit – dungarees, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, plastic cowboy boots, and a bandanna with his name on it, just in case the child did not recognize that famous face.

The Howdy Doody Show ran in various time slots from 1947 until its final broadcast in September 1960.  The show continued as reruns until the early 1970s.  Many of the 1949-54 episodes were released on DVD. Howdy Doody has been teaching/entertaining children of all ages for decades now.  There is still vintage Howdy Doody merchandise to be collected while there is still nostalgic merchandise being manufactured.  Howdy Doody is a part of American Children’s Television History.

Howdy Doody is definitely a part of my doll-loving history.  I have an original composition head doll of Howdy that belonged to my Aunt, which I treasure.   When I was a child, he “lived” in my Granny’s window seat and occasionally made an appearance.  I was allowed to touch him, but never to play with him.  He is now in my custody and resides happily with all the other dolls.   I also have a Madame Alexander marionette of Howdy as well as Christmas ornaments, etc.  Seems as though Howdy Doody has always been a favorite for me.  I have always believed it to be because of his red hair and freckles (just like mine).

That, my doll friends, is a BRIEF story of Howdy Doody and his history.  There is so much more, but I will leave that for you to discover.  I hope to see you all back here in August!

“Let’s Talk Dolls” again soon!

Hugs and be well,