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

Source: Google News

Injustice: Year Three #8 review
Batman-News, January 28th

Maybe not much of a fight as Sinestro basically get tossed about like a red-faced Raggedy Ann, but there is much satisfaction in that nevertheless. And the cliffhanger ending, of course, sets us up with the promise of further battle delights for the...Read more

Senior starts over in life with colorful passion
Tyler Morning Telegraph, January 27th

Underneath the bright yellow, pig-tailed wig, face paint and Raggedy Ann-esque clown costume is a woman who believes everyone deserves a smile, and as “Dee Dee” the clown, it's her goal to deliver. Dee Kirkpatrick, a twice widowed 76-year-old ...Read more

Books Make Great Play Pals
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (blog), January 27th

Cartoonist Johnny Gruelle wrote and illustrated his Raggedy Ann Stories (1918) for “the millions of children and grown-ups who have loved a Rag Doll.” Those millions fell in love with both the stories and the doll. Raggedy Ann and her brother, Raggedy...Read more

Phyllis (Bachelder) Flagg
Lewiston Sun Journal, January 25th

She liked to cook, sew — especially Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls — crochet, knit, garden and play cards. She volunteered at Mallett School for 15 years and was an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary of Buckfield, holding many offices during...Read more

Looking back: The untold story of Raggedy Ann
Myhorrynews, October 13th

The beloved Raggedy Ann doll has been woven into our childhoods and hearts for almost 100 years, and this iconic doll has been seen in print, cartoons, movies, and books all over the world. Although there were myths and controversies surrounding this ...Read more

The classic, smiley Raggedy Ann dolls were originally handmade in West ...
Michigan Radio, September 30th

If there's been a little girl in your life at any point, chances are pretty good that Raggedy Ann made her way into your home. The cloth doll with the yarn hair and the candy-cane-striped stockings has been a part of America's toy scene for a century...Read more

Made in Michigan: Raggedy Ann dolls
WZZM, August 7th

Who knew Raggedy Ann has a Muskegon connection? Ann Dake did, and she's organized an exhibit running at the Muskegon Heritage Museum through Saturday to tell others about the connection. The character and doll were created around 1915 by a ...Read more

Three downtown museums to celebrate Raggedy Ann's Muskegon roots
The 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