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.