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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Mel Crawford, Little Golden Books Illustrator, RIPCartoon Brew, March 5th
A versatile artist who was equally comfortable working in both cartoonish and realistic styles, Mel drew and painted not only cartoon characters, but pop culture icons as diverse as Rootie Kazootie, Buck Rogers, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Roy Rogers, Howdy ...Read more
Abigail Means: Family, friends race for cure of little girl's deadly genetic ...WCPO, February 26th
Her constant companion is a Raggedy Ann doll, with its head full of floppy red yarn for hair. Abigail, much like the song she often sings, is her mother and father's “sunshine.” Sadly for Jen and Mike Means, and all those whose are touched by Abigail's...Read more
South-West Review bulletin board Feb. 22, 2015East Side Review, February 24th
Homeward Bound Theatre Company will present "Adventures with Raggedy Ann and Andy" for kindergartners through third-graders in South St. Paul on Mondays, March 2 through March 23 from 3:40 p.m. to 4:55 p.m. at Kaposia Education Center, and ...Read more
Raggedy Ann and Andy celebrate 100th anniversaryFolsom Telegraph, February 18th
Collector and story teller Mary Schwind shared the story of Raggedy Ann and Andy's beginnings in honor of their 100th anniversary for a full audience at the El Dorado Hills Senior Center last week. “(I was) fascinated by the historical and cultural...Read more
TCT gets dolled up for 'Raggedy Ann and Andy'Topeka Capital Journal, February 12th
Although she has a head stuffed with cloth, Raggedy Ann has one bright idea after another in the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy youth production of “Raggedy Ann and Andy.” Raggedy Ann (Abby Musick) and her brave-to-his-cotton-core brother, Raggedy ...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 dollsWZZM, 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 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