Back in 1951, when housewives dressed to the nines to dust their porcelain bibelots and the nuclear family had reached its apotheosis, McCalls’ magazine featured a small treat for kids of all ages: the Betsy McCall paper doll. The detailed drawings came to life with a pair of scissors and bit of patience and gave many a child the chance to play with this fashionable tyke.
Soon thereafter, in 1952, Ideal Toys created a 14” Betsy McCall doll and later in 1957, American Character followed with a 8" doll and then in 1958, a 14-inch beauty. Not as know or as popular as the tiny version, The 14-inch Betsy McCall by American Character features a superb sculpt with lively sleep eyes and a cute Mamie Eisenhower-inspired hairstyle.
From the 1958 Sears Christmas catalog:
14-inch Betsy McCall...Walks
Betsy is a “little Girl” yet so fashion-conscious! She’s bisque-finished vinyl plastic with rooted Saran hair and lashed moving eyes. She walks when guided, has jointed arms, legs, waist...turning head.”
In a cotton dress , Betsy retailed at $7.69. For $8.69, Betsy donned a rayon lined checked gingham coat and dress set.
Dolldom celebrates this hard-to-find little girl to show that superbly designed dolls live forever. All they need is a loving home and the talent of freelance designers. For this exclusive portfolio, Betsy models a wardrobe put together from diverse sources: a vintage original, a Tonner Doll Company design, and superbly crafted recreations of the paper doll fashions by the unique Little Red Hen.
INTRODUCING BETSY MCCALL - May, 1951
Little Red Hen’s interpretation of the cover dress in the May 1951 issue of McCall's magazine is made of Valencia orange and white dotted Swiss gingham and ecru eyelet. Underneath is a sewn-in lace-trimmed slip. Betsy's dress ties in a bow at the back. She is ready for a day in the sun, playing with Nosy, her Dachsund. In this photo, Betsy plays with Foxy, a Steiff Fox Terrier wearing a tag that reads: "Made in Occupied Germany".
Vintage Prom Time ball gown was designed and made by American Character from 1958 to 1959. This Dioresque evening dress features a black velvet bodice with a sheer pink stole attached with a rhinestone pin. The gown's skirt is comprised of a sheer pink top layer with a luxurious wide ruffle along the bottom. Lace trimmed pink satin slip is attached to the top skirt. Accessories include a tulle lace slip, pink panties with lace trim, white rayon socks, and pink satin shoes with center snap closures
PUT THE DRESS ON BETSY - April, 1953
Little Red Hen’s version of the one-piece dress has a lined bodice with puff sleeves and Peter Pan collar. The gathered circular skirt with suspenders is made of vintage chintz and ties in the back in a supple bow. In Dolldom’s version of the story, Betsy puts on a puppet show with Lambchop for a crowd of adoring fans.
BETSY MCCALL TAKES A RIDE ON THE CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR - July, 1960
Little Red Hen’s interpretation of the sleeveless dress is a tribute to the power of rickrack. Made with vintage fabric, it has a lined bodice, a solid blue midriff with vintage rickrack, and two buttons at the back. Underneath the skirt there's an attached lace trimmed slip. Perfect dress for searching for lost dolls in the dark forest.
Tonner Doll Company designed this sailor dress for it’s own 14-inch version of Betsy. TDC’s fashions fit American Character’s Betsy perfectly. In the background, two Tonner Doll Company 8-inch Betsy dolls dressed by Sara Lanzilotta stand ready to sail ship.
TiMe MaChInE BoNuS!
The September 1954 issue of McCall's featured a special story entitled “Betsy McCall is Topsy-Turvy":
“Hi, Betsy!” said Nosy. “Look at me!” Betsy McCall looked at him in surprise. “Not you,” said Nosy. “I mean the other one.” Betsy looked around and saw her doll, whose name is also Betsy McCall, sitting teetering on a chair with only three legs. Then she looked back at Nosy in amazement. “Why are you standing on your head?” she demanded. “To rest my foot,” growled Nosy. “Why are you flying a kite in the living room?” Betsy looked even more surprised. “Why, I didn’t realize I was,” she replied. “Goodness, everything’s wrong! I’m all topsy-turvy. I must be dreaming!”
And dreaming she was. Can you find all that is topsy-turvy in Betsy’s dream?
There are ten topsy-turvy elements in the illustration. Find them!