1962 Consumer Products and Retail History
I know I’ve been away for a long time, but as is often the story for internet sites, my real world life got in the way. Here’s a very big THANK YOU to all of you who kept reading Roadtrip-'62 ™ for the past couple of months. I hope you’ve had a chance to look at some of the pages you’ve missed, reread a favorite, or even buy some great 1962 merchandise from our advertisers. Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll buckle up, grab the steering wheel, and get back on the road for you!
Today though, let’s talk about toys from 1962, specifically dolls. There are many types of toy dolls, and I will discuss them in five broad categories: baby dolls, functioning dolls, fashion dolls, character dolls, and paper dolls. Baby dolls are probably the oldest category, often found even among ancient civilizations’ remains. Some of the baby dolls from 1962 were also functioning dolls. A sample includes:
- Gum Drop by Effanbee: 15" toddler doll with soft vinyl jointed head and arms, hard plastic body and legs, rooted blond or brown hair, blue or green sleep eyes with upper lashes. Sold separately or as part of “Wee 3 Family“ set.
- Ginny by Vogue Dolls: 11" baby doll of hard vinyl jointed at neck, shoulders, and hip, with molded painted head, blueish green eyes, bent baby style legs, an open mouth for nursing bottle, and a drain hole. One in Vogue’s long-running Ginny doll series, which continued at least to 1999. Ginny also came in both 7½" and 36" tall versions, and a “colored” version. The 36" doll was a walker and carried a 7½" doll!
- Ruth's Sister doll by Horsman: 26" hard plastic body and legs, vinyl head and arms with rooted hair, sleep eyes with lashes, and open mouth.
- Charlot doll by Goebel: 9" vinyl jointed doll with rooted hair.
- Carnation Milk Thirsty CryBaby by Horsman: 18" jointed baby doll with rooted blonde hair and blue sleep eyes, battery operated crying sound and sucking motion. Came with Carnation branded bottle.
- Baby McGuffey doll by Madame Alexander: 14" with crying action, sleep eyes, and lashes.
- Blabby doll by Uneeda Doll Company: 14 or 18" tall with vinyl head, platinum short rooted hair, vinyl jointed toddler body with the right arm slightly bent, sleep eyes, and open mouth.
These doll companies were new to me, so in case they’re also new to you, here’s some information on them. Effanbee was founded around 1910 in New York City. They were the first company to produce a realistically proportioned child doll, named Patsy, and the first hard rubber, drink and wet doll, named Dy-Dee Baby, in 1934. Effanbee continued to produce dolls until 2002, when they were purchased by Tonner Doll, which produced some of their dolls until 2018. Horsman was also founded in New York City, in 1865. An Alden’s Christmas catalog page for 1962 includes one “colored” toddler doll, 16" Joy, among the many white dolls; rather progressive for the times. The company was eventually sold to Gata - Gatabox, LTD of Hong Kong, who continued to produce dolls under the Horsman LTD name.
Vogue Dolls is another old company, best known for their Ginny doll. They grew to become the largest doll only manufacturer in the world. The Alexander Doll Company was founded in 1923, again in New York City, and is still in operation there today. Uneeda Doll Company was founded in 1917, again in New York City. The company produced over 400 doll models in the 1930s, including a Rita Hayworth doll as Carmen. They also had a “drink-and-wet” doll, and by the 1960s the Walk N Wave doll and Tiny Teen Girl doll. They even tried a doll a speaking doll in 1962, Saranade. Uneeda’s production also later moved to Hong Kong, where they were known as the Tony Toy Company, and the company closed in 1991. In addition to the manufacturers mentioned above, there have always been generic dolls made by unknown companies that come and go. They would typically sell inexpensive plastic baby dolls with molded on hair and without moving limbs. And then there is the king of dolls for 1962, Mattel!
The early 1960s TV commercial that launched Chatty Cathy.
I noted a couple of crying dolls above, but one of the big sellers of 1962 was a talking doll, Chatty Cathy and her other Chatty family dolls and even some knockoffs. Chatty Cathy was manufactured by Mattel and sold from 1960 to 1965. She was the second most popular doll of the 1960s after Barbie, which was also made by Mattel! Actress June Foray did the voice for Chatty Cathy in 1960. She is also well known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Looney Tunes’s Granny, Cindy Lou Who, Jokey Smurf, and Magica De Spell, depending on what era you watched cartoons in. She recorded three sets of phrases for Cathy, 11 each for the 1960 and 1961 dolls, and 18 phrases for the 1962 dolls. Mattel added a Chatty Baby, “colored” Chatty Cathy, and a Casper the Friendly Ghost doll based on the same technology in 1962. They also sold Bugs Bunny and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent talking dolls that year. A Bozo the Clown version came in 1963 and others in the Chatty line through 1965. My wife, who was 9 years old in 1962, had a Chatty Cathy at some point. She notes that the voice box quit talking after a couple of years.
Besides talkers, I place walkers, wetters, and moving dolls among functioning dolls. Effanbee’s Dy-Dee Baby doll went out of production sometime in the 1950s but a competitor created in the same year continued on. Betsy Wetsy was a "drink-and-wet" doll created by the Ideal Toy Company of New York City in 1934. When Effanbee filed a patent infringement lawsuit, the judge ruled that drinking and urinating are natural movements and cannot be patented. Betsy Wetsy was most popular in the 1950s, following television ads, but faded thereafter. After Ideal went through several mergers and ended up a part of Tyco Toys, the doll was still produced into the late 1990s. Betsy Wetsy was one of the first major dolls to be produced in a “colored” version, probably in the 1950s when the doll was most popular.
Tiny Tears was another “drink-and-wet” doll with the added feature of crying tears. She was manufactured by the American Character Doll Company, introduced in 1950. The doll remained in production through 1968, when the company went out of business. In 1959, she was given "rock-a-bye" eyes that slowly closed when she was laid horizontally and gently rocked. She was often sold with a baby bottle and a small bubble pipe, which blew bubbles when you set it into the doll's mouth and gently pressed the tummy. Tiny Tears was another beneficiary of aggressive television advertising in the 1950s and 1960s. The doll mold was sold to Ideal Toy Company in 1968 and they continued to make Tiny Tears through at least 1989, but the mold and hair were changed significantly after 1982. A British version was introduced in 1965 and has a complicated history from that point, but is still in production.
Kitten, a doll by Madame Alexander, was limp but moved when you turned a knob on the back. If you tipped her a certain way, she cried. It was introduced in 1961. Though it was from Madame Alexander, best known for display dolls, it was designed for play and was less expensive. They still came with rooted hair, lashes, and sleep eyes. Another motion doll, Kissy by Ideal, had a lot less motion but was one of the cutest dolls ever. Kissy was released in 1961 and produced until 1968, in several different versions. When you gently squeeze her arms together she puckers her lips and gives you a loud kiss. That’s it; she doesn’t do anything else!
Not all dolls represent babies; fashion dolls were also popular. Mattel’s Barbie was the first of these in the United States, first sold in 1959 and marketed as a "Teen-age Fashion Model". Ruth Handler, one of the owners of Mattel, thought her daughter Barbara should have a grown-up doll option to play with, but the idea did not go anywhere in the company until she traveled to Germany in 1956. There, she found a doll similar to what she had in mind, the Bild Lilli doll. Though it was based on a newspaper cartoon and sold mostly as a sort of gag gift to men, she brought some back with her. Mattel decided to try one like it but with different marketing. Barbie was launched in 1959 and was an instant hit. The 1962 Barbie had two hairstyles, the original ponytail and a bubble cut. She was given eight new ensembles that year, and a bunch of Fashion Paks that were either single items or accessories. As there were twenty-eight ensembles still in production from previous years, Barbie now had an overwhelming wardrobe! The Fashion Paks included grouping such as Apron and Utensils, an underwear set (Slip, Panties, Bra), Slacks, Gathered Skirt, and Sheath Skirt with Telephone. My wife wanted a Barbie when she was young, but she got the less expensive Skipper, Barbie's younger sister, in about 1964. In the meantime, she had one of the Barbie knock-offs.
Mattel did have a lingering problem though with the Bild Lilli doll that inspired Barbie. The competing toy manufacturer Louis Marx and Company had licensed Bild Lilli for the U.S. market. Marx claimed that Mattel had “infringed on Greiner & Hausser's patent for Bild-Lilli's hip joint”, and that Barbie “was "a direct take-off and copy" of Bild-Lilli.” Mattel counter-sued and the case was settled out of court in 1963, with Mattel additionally buying Greiner & Hausser's copyright and patent right in 1964. Bild Lilli was then taken out of production.
It didn’t take long for other toy companies to see the market Barbie tapped. One of the first ideas were dolls based on First Lady Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy. Horsman introduced their “Jackie” doll in 1961, and though it had no last name, it clearly resembled Mrs. Kennedy. Madam Alexander was a bit bolder that same year, with a 25" tall Jacqueline Kennedy doll followed by a Caroline Kennedy doll. Her height is significantly taller than Barbie, which was an 11.5" doll. The Jacqueline Kennedy doll was based on their existing jointed Cissy doll body, with a new head. Her wardrobe was as elegant as the real First Lady’s, with evening gowns, riding outfit, satin coats, and even pearl earrings. Both dolls were jointed hard plastic with vinyl limbs, rooted hair, eye lashes and sleep eyes. By 1962, all the toy companies had Barbie clones on the market.
Vogue introduced their Jill doll, 10.5" tall with a bubble cut hairdo and high heel feet. She came in three different hair colors: auburn, brunette, or platinum blonde. Ideal introduced their Tammy doll in 1962. She was 12" tall and designed in more of a teenage “girl next door” style than Barbie’s fashion model style. But she also had bubble cut hair with bangs in various colors, side glancing painted eyes, doll family members, furniture, cars, homes, and more accessories. A more grownup version and a “colored” version were released in 1965, but the doll went out of production in 1966.
Uneeda was heavily into Barbie clones by 1962, selling them under their own brand and as house brands for both Montgomery Ward and W. T. Grant stores. Uneeda had perhaps the most complete line of Barbie-style dolls that year. The Miss Suzette was the same height as Barbie, with the same side glancing eyes, and also came dressed in a swimsuit and high heels. However, her head was over-sized for the torso. Uneeda’s Wendy Ward doll was also 11.5" tall and made in several styles, all exclusively sold at Montgomery Ward. She came in the same style as Miss Suzette and in another style with molded hair and sleep eyes like you would usually find on baby dolls. Wendy Ward and Miss Suzette both had a unique Y-joint body, which would avoid the patent lawsuit that Mattel faced. Uneeda also sold a Bob doll as Miss Suzette's boyfriend, but he was only sold at W. T. Grant stores. Bob had molded hair and the same Uneeda Y-joint body.
Character dolls covered a wide range of subjects. I’ve already mentioned the Jackie Kennedy dolls, based on a real person. But others were based on comic, television, and childrens’ story characters. One of the earliest was the Kewpie doll, first made as a ceramic doll in 1912 and based on comic strips by Rose O’Neill that began running in 1909. Later versions were produced in standard composition material and celluloid, with Effanbee creating a hard plastic version in 1949. The doll’s popularity continued, with soft rubber and vinyl versions appearing by the 1960s by Cameo Company, Jesco, and Edward Mobley. The Kewpie Squeeze Toy was produced by Edward Mobley in several varieties in 1962. A coloring book “Kewpies A Coloring Book and Cut-Out Book” was published by Saalfield that same year.
A pair of long-time favorite character dolls are Raggedy Ann and her brother, Raggedy Andy. The character was created as a doll in 1915 by author Johnny Gruelle, and was introduced to the public in the 1918 book “Raggedy Ann Stories”. Gruelle patented the doll when he created it in 1915, but other companies have sold similar dolls. Wolfpit Enterprises sold a similar 13" tall rag doll in 1962. After the first book, Gruelle wrote and sold a new book every year until his death in 1938. The doll’s popularity continued though, with new books containing a mix of stories by him and other authors until 1961. Four titles were published that year and no new ones released until the 1970s when they were written completely by other authors. In 1962, the Bobbs-Merrill Company became the authorized publisher and licensor for Raggedy Ann-related literary works, with the Knickerbocker Toy Company manufacturing the dolls. Three sizes of both Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy were sold in 1962. Currently, Hasbro holds the trademark for the Raggedy Ann dolls, while all other trademarks are administered by a division of ViacomCBS.
By far the most unusual character doll from 1962 that I have seen is the Morticia Addams doll, produced by Aboriginals Ltd. It appears to have been sold exclusively at FAO Schwarz. Morticia is of course one of the Addams Family, created by cartoonist Charles Addams and seen in “The New Yorker” magazine. The doll was 48" tall with a starched linen face, braided string hair, and stuffed cloth body: a rag doll actually. They also sold the children dolls, Wednesday and Pugsley. This was two years before the family would make their television debut! I mentioned a few talking character dolls as part of the Chatty Cathy line above. There were also plush stuffed toy dolls of Yogi Bear, Bullwinkle Moose, Smokey Bear and others available. And I don’t know if sock monkey dolls qualify as character dolls, but you could make your own in 1962. The idea and pattern have been around since the early 1900s, using Rockford Red Heel® socks from Fox River Mills. The instructions for making these dolls are still in each package of Red Heel Monkey socks. And more formats for character dolls included Mister Magoo as stuffed fabric with sewn on fabric clothes, Popeye as solid plastic with painted on clothes, and Dennis the Menace as solid plastic with removable fabric clothes. But you couldn’t get a G.I. Joe doll until 1964.
The last category I’ll cover is my favorite from 1962, paper dolls. As a boy with no sisters, I had no real exposure to any of the dolls mentioned previously. I’m sure I saw television commercials for some of them and noticed the toy catalog pages, but I didn’t play with them. But paper dolls came in many variations and some were even “suitable” for boys. Just a couple of years earlier, in 1960, there were Dennis the Menace and Roy Rogers paper doll books sold. Platt & Munk had a series of historical paper doll sets from 1960 to at least 1963. These were another nod to the Civil War Centennial that saw army play sets, trading cards, postage stamps, and even Charlie Brown commemorate the event. An “Airline Hostess And Pilot Paper Doll Book” by Merrill featured “Round the World Travel Clothes” which was really just an excuse for some glamorous outfits for both girls AND boys. No different really than Barbie and Ken, which of course had several paper doll sets published by Whitman. So, I might have become involved with one of those.
But the paper dolls I remember best were from magazines. Several magazines had paper dolls to cut out, including Jack & Jill and Humpty Dumpty, which I sometimes read about that time. Of course, the best magazine for paper dolls was McCall’s. Every month they published a new set of Betsy McCall paper doll clothes! I had a lot of fun with those and even made some of my own designs. I used to do that with board games, crossword puzzles, mazes, maps and more. Always making my own designs. Betsy McCall was invented by McCall’s magazine as a way to introduce mothers and children to sewing by engaging them in play with paper dolls. The magazine was created in 1873 by James McCall to publicize and sell the dress patterns his company made. The first Betsy McCall paper doll was featured in the May 1951 issue. It caught on so well that the Ideal Toy Corporation licensed the name and made a real Betsy McCall Doll the next year. Of course, it came with a beginner’s McCall’s pattern to sew aprons for both a child and the doll. In 1957 the license went to American Character Doll Company, who made several different sizes and styles of Betsy McCall dolls until 1963. Uneeda, Horsman, Rothschild Doll Company, Tomy Doll Company, and Larami Corporation have all made Betsy McCall dolls since. It was most recently produced by Tonner from at least 1995-2009. The magazine’s Betsy was drawn by Kay Morrissey from 1951-1955, by Renee Forsythe from 1955–1958, and by Ginnie Hoffman from 1958–1986.
Licensed chartacters were a very popular type of paper doll. I’ve found the following, though I am sure there were more.
- National Velvet, by Whitman - based on the currently running NBC TV show and the recent MGM movie.
- Dorothy Provine, by Whitman – another television star, she had appeared in recent years in “The Alaskans”, “The Roaring 20’s”, and was on “Hawaiian Eye”, “The Red Skelton Show” and others in 1962.
- The Lennon Sisters, by Whitman – television stars again, the singing sisters Janet, Cathy, Peggy appeared on every episode of “The Lawrence Welk Show”. A fourth sister, DeeDee, was part of the group before 1960, when she married.
- Molly Bee by Whitman – a country singing star who had been popular since she was only 11 years old, appearing on both stage shows and television.
- Annette Funicello, by Whitman – star of Walt Disney television, movies, and music since the days of the “Mickey Mouse Club”. She had most recently starred in Disney’s “Babes in Toyland” movie in 1961.
- Debbie Reynolds, by Whitman – a movie star most recently in the 1962 film “How the West Was Won”.
Milton Bradley did not seem to get into licensed characters, but had their own line of paper dolls. Their Magic Mary line had the gimmick of including a magnet to help clothes stay on when you stood the doll up. This was actually a problem, for if you played with regular paper dolls, moving them around much, the paper tabs that typically held clothes on at the shoulders and waist did not reliably do the job. The Magic Mary system worked with a piece of steel behind the doll and small magnets you would tape onto each piece of clothing. There were at least 3 sets available in 1962: Magic Mary, Magic Mary Lou, and Magic Mary Ann. More are known from other years. Of course there were generic paper dolls from numerous publishers, usually either babies, children, or fashion models. Valerie, published by Sandle’s of London, also used the magnet gimmick.
If you would like to see a collection of old dolls, visit a doll or toy museum on your next road trip. The United Federation of Doll Clubs has a great one at their headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, with both permanent and rotating displays. I’ll probably see you there when Roadtrip-'62 ™ travels US-40. Meantime, I was really hoping for some cowboy paper dolls to end the day with, but all the sets I found are from the early to late 1950s. I guess that trend had played out before 1962. I’ll just have to get out my toy guns and play western!
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2021 - Donald Dale Milne, except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2021 – Donald Dale Milne