When illustrator and cartoonist Johnny Gruelle’s terminally ill daughter, Marcella, found a faded rag doll in her grandmother’s attic, he painted a new, smiling face on the toy. Naming it Raggedy Ann after two poems by his friend James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Orphan Annie,” he made up a series of stories around this character to entertain his only child, who loved to spend hours playing dolls.
After her death in 1916, Gruelle wrote and illustrated 25 storybooks based on those tales. Responding to the series’ popularity, in 1918, Gruelle and his family made several dozen dolls to sell with the books, and later that year, Gruelle licensed the publisher, the P.F. Volland Company, to manufacture the dolls based on his 1915 patent for an all-cloth doll with shoe-button eyes, a painted face, brown yarn hair, a dress, pantaloons, a pinafore, stripped legs, and black cloth shoes.
Soon after the dolls were sold, Gruelle received a package from a childhood playmate of his mother, who explained that their mothers had made a pair of boy-and-girl companion dolls for their two children. In the package, she had sent him Raggedy Ann’s “twin brother,” Andy, and soon the family started to license dolls of Raggedy Andy and other characters from the books, including Beloved Belindy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, as well as coloring books, puzzles, and games. All are hot collectors’ items today.
It is rumored that the original P.F. Volland dolls had a real candy heart, but after parents complained the candy was switched out with a cardboard heart. Mollye Goldman was the first, in 1935, to produce the dolls with an “I Love You” heart imprinted on the chest.
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Recent News: Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls
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Raggedy Ann doll was born out of father's griefHuntington Herald Dispatch, March 8th
Raggedy Ann was born out of a father's grief after his daughter's death. John Gruelle doted on his young daughter Marcella and often used her as an inspiration for his art and literary missives. Long before Marcella passed away John Gruelle was...Read more
Playlist: Boston to Austin SXSW tunesBoston Herald, March 7th
Oh, that voice could turn “Who Let the Dogs Out?” into a sad, sweet, introspective gem. Listen to new tune "Raggedy Ann" and tell me I'm wrong. Next local show: Atwood's Tavern, March 22 with fellow 2014 SXSW alum (and awesome singer) Sarah Borges...Read more
Locals power Austin, Texas, festival South by SouthwestBoston Herald, March 6th
Listen to her new tune “Raggedy Ann” and tell me I'm wrong. Next local show: Atwood's Tavern, March 22 with fellow 2014 SXSW alum (and awesome singer) Sarah Borges. Spirit Kid. Emeen Zarookian's Spirit Kid does lazy, groovy power pop. On the new ...Read more
Which trilogy was better?Daily 49er, March 4th
It was a Raggedy Ann doll that my mother gave me before I could even walk. My doll and baby blanket went with me everywhere. I still feel the love and a slight pang in my heart when I think about them today. That Raggedy Ann doll got lost in the midst ...Read more
Donna Gayle (Gross) Fisher, 76, of Hale, died Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, March 3rd
Gayle was known for her large collection of stuffed animals and among her favorites were her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Survivors include husband, Lee Allen Fisher, of the home; two sons: Mark Fisher, of Hale, Mo., and Scott Fisher and his wife Dawn, ...Read more
Alec Baldwin's Preschool Report CardNew Yorker, March 2nd
When I asked Alec to choose his words more carefully, he insisted that he admired both Amanda and her Raggedy Ann doll for their honest relationship, and added, “I hope they go for it. And I'd be open to a three-way.” Making Friends. Alec is a popular...Read more
Labor of love: Nonprofit celebrates 30 years of teaching compassionPacific Coast Business Times, February 14th
On Valentine's Day 1984, Karen Fox walked into Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital dressed as Raggedy Ann, intent on taking a message of hope and love to the patients. Herself a cancer survivor who had recently received abnormal test results, she first...Read more
Listen to Ruby Rose Fox's 'Raggedy Ann,' and prepare your broken heart for ...Vanyaland, February 10th
Picking up where she left off late last year with her rendition of “Jolene,” Boston's Ruby Rose Fox has once again given us an intimate look inside her musical soul. Last night she released a new track, “Raggedy Ann,” via YouTube, and it's a nice...Read more