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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Pointer wins Best in Show at Pet ShowThe-review, August 16th
Last year, Gia Sampson-Furry and her dog Ruby Tuesday won the Best Owner-Pet Look-Alike title with their Raggedy Ann and Andy garb, and they took the title again this year with a tribute to another cartoon character, Minnie Mouse. Wrapping up the ...Read more
Last Miss Deaf America Ambassador began at MSDFrederick News Post (subscription), August 15th
For her creative portion, she dressed as Raggedy Ann and gave a monologue on being strong and empowered rather than limp rag dolls. Gleicher never expected to win and said the final six contestants onstage were excellent candidates. "It's nice to have...Read more
Antique toy exhibit hosted by Otisfield associationLewiston Sun Journal, August 15th
"Did your childhood friends include Raggedy Ann, Betsy Wetsy or Teddy?" the association asked in a statement about the exhibit. "Do you remember Twister? Did you and your friends wile away long summer days playing Monopoly or Tripoley? And just how ...Read more
Made in Michigan: Raggedy Ann dollsWZZM, August 7th
"Raggedy Ann started because the author Johnny Gruelle and his daughter found a rag doll in her grandmother's attic," explained Drake. The author's publishing firm hired the Non Breakable Toy Company in Muskegon to produce dolls based on Gruelle's ...Read more
PYT and city of MV present 'Raggedy Ann' this Friday evening at downtown ...Los Altos Town Crier, August 6th
Peninsula Youth Theatre and the city of Mountain View conclude their Children's Theatre in the Park series with “Raggedy Ann & Andy,” scheduled 6:30 p.m. Friday at the downtown ParkStage. When French doll Babette is stolen, Raggedy Ann, Andy and the ...Read more
Celebrate Raggedy Ann's Michigan historyWOTV, August 4th
Three Muskegon museums are celebrating the city's part in Raggedy Ann history with a series of events from August 7 to August 9 at the Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon Heritage Museum, and the Lakeshore Museum Center. Kids can enjoy activities, ...Read more
Take 5 Logo (Photo: wzzm)WZZM, August 1st
The Grand Haven VFW located at 20 N. First St in Grand Haven and Sobie Meats is proud to host the 2014 Grand Haven VFW Coast Guard Celebration Bash July 31-August 2. This year's event features non-stop entertainment with EDM (Electronic Dance ...Read more
Three downtown museums to celebrate Raggedy Ann's Muskegon rootsThe Muskegon Chronicle, July 27th
Raggedy Ann -- the well-known rag doll with red yarn hair, a triangle nose and star of a series of children's books written by American writer Johnny Gruelle -- will be the focus of events held at the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Muskegon Heritage...Read more