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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Pittsburgh Opera acquires colorful production that was almost discardedPittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27th
And the classic Hockney production, owned by San Francisco Opera and first staged there in 1982, was the obvious choice. Mr. Hockney, 78, a contemporary of Andy Warhol, designed the colorful scenery, eccentric costumes and Raggedy Ann-like wigs...Read more
Top of the Morning, April 28, 2016Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette, April 27th
Just like Roger Ebert's statue in front of the Virginia Theatre, Joni Gruelle Wannamaker is sure a bronze tribute to Raggedy Ann and Andy will draw picture-taking crowds to downtown Arcola. Granddaughter of the rag dolls' creator, Arcola-born Johnny...Read more
Why Barbra Streisand Should Cast Me in the Role of 'Gypsy' -- No, Seriously!Huffington Post, April 27th
With word that Barbra Streisand's film version of Gypsy is back on track, all eyes are on who will be cast as her tomboy-turned-stripper daughter, Gypsy. Several names are floating around — Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, herself — and while they're fine...Read more
'Her memory lives on'Hancock County Journal Pilot, April 27th
Kiryn remembers Kathy's affinity for Raggedy Ann dolls and housework. “Looking back, we were destitute,” Kent said. “But she made the best of it, and she made the best memories for us. (At home) she opened the windows, blasted oldies and we cleaned the ...Read more
Donations sought for Raggedy Ann and Andy statue in ArcolaJournal Gazette and Times-Courier, April 26th
ARCOLA (JG-TC) -- A fundraising effort is under way to pay for a statue of Raggedy Ann and Andy in the hometown of the famous toys' creator. The bronze statue will be displayed in downtown Arcola near the city's Tourist Information Depot and will...Read more
Free printable Raggedy Ann and Andy coloring pagesExaminer.com, April 25th
As a little girl, my favorite cartoon dolls were Raggedy Ann and Andy. We didn't have television and I met Raggedy Ann and Andy in a collection of stories we had. I had a little Raggedy Ann doll with a little red heart sewn on her chest. American...Read more
High School Hero, Terrifying Taxidermist + 16 more manic faces of Harley QuinnBlastr, April 25th
Grandmother to the show's recurring twin antagonist duo Dee Dee, themselves a rave girl mashup of Harley's design and a Raggedy Ann doll, she bails them out of jail before chastising them, "You rotten little scamps! I struggled to make a good home for...Read more
Raggedy Ann Turns 100Publishers Weekly, September 22nd
Raggedy Ann has endeared herself to young readers for a century – both as a rag doll toy with button eyes and red yarn hair and as the character of a bounty of stories by the late Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938). Next month Simon & Schuster is commemorating ...Read more