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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Fate smilesHerald & Review, April 20th
But life, unlike Raggedy Ann, has a habit of not always smiling. Mother-in-law eventually became an ex-mother-in-law, and daughter Brenda Peoples is now happily remarried. We live, we learn and we move on, and no one thinks much about what happens ...Read more
Bet you can't read this post without going, 'Awww'USA TODAY, April 20th
When I look at Raggedy Ann, she takes me back to wonderful times with my family... Mimi Jean Pamfiloff, author of The King Trilogy (May 15). I had many cool toys growing up — The Strawberry Shortcake doll collection, a pogo stick, Betty Crocker...Read more
Another great Spring Craft ShowThe Record Gazette, April 18th
Spring Craft Show. Carol Allbaugh and her friend Dorothy Pratt with Carol's handmade soft sculptured dolls. She also had a large variety of Raggedy Ann dolls. All goods sold at the Craft Show must be handmade by Sun Lakes residents...Read more
'Lebensraum' challenges, inspires audienceBoston Globe, April 10th
Silke Hundertmark plays the red-headed doll after it comes to life, and her performance best expresses the show's double nature, combining Raggedy Ann cuteness with the implacability of a Terminator. No matter what shape these guys fold her into, she...Read more
Cleveland Corner: Memories of Cleveland CountyShelby Star, April 7th
She hand-made Raggedy Ann and Andys, as well as other crafts. Her home was like a kid paradise. We had two huge oak trees on the front lawn that I played under, and the neighborhood was a great place to ride bikes. The Italian restaurant of choice was ...Read more
3 Applicator-Free Blushes for Lazy PeopleFashionista, April 2nd
When you first apply it, you get a horrifying Raggedy Ann look, but a little gentle blending with your fingertips makes the most natural-looking flush ever. Make Up For Ever HD Blush, $26: This is another example of a brand capitalizing on the...Read more
Discount bears, Mrs. Santa's dollsPocono Record, April 1st
Appealing to adult collectors, the store offered Steiff plush animals and childhood favorites such as Raggedy Ann dolls. For youngsters who did not prefer dolls, there were stuffed animals, large and small. What is the address for the Discovery Channel?...Read more
Grady County family brings generations of experience to marketChickasha Express Star, April 1st
Riley said her grandmother made sock monkeys for 50 years, as well as Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, and sold them from her home. She said she remembers her grandmother making an organic potato patch and she appreciates knowing where her food ...Read more