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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Dr. Toy Announces 2015 Best Classic ToysPR Leap (press release), April 20th
Many parents and grandparents want to introduce a special favorite, a Yo-Yo, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Tinker Toys, Etch-A-Sketch, teddy bear, Raggedy Ann doll, Monopoly, or Lionel electric trains. Classics are the 'basics' that never go out of style...Read more
Pols & Politics: Walsh hire connected, but not like you'd thinkBoston Herald, April 18th
“It was pretty miserable for most of my life if you had been one of my dolls. Because I used to line my dolls up and teach them day after day,” she added, stabbing her finger in the air to illustrate the stern early teaching style Raggedy Ann and...Read more
Watch at Your Own Risk: Video of Creepy Doll Triggers SicknessRYOT, April 18th
Annabelle, a Raggedy Ann doll, seemed harmless enough, but every time her owner would return home, she would found her somewhere else than where she'd left her. “For some reason, dolls seem to attract more spirits and paranormal haunted activities ...Read more
Getting an early start on Fourth of July festivitiesMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 17th
We have a stage and a sound system — both donated through the efforts of committee member Stephanie Drake (who dressed up as Raggedy Ann years ago for the talent show). Her musician husband, Jared, is our sound man. Her parents, Pat and Tony ...Read more
'Talkin' Fool' Will Rogers was nobody's foolLoveland Reporter-Herald, April 14th
In the 1920s, the Raggedy Ann doll was used as a symbol by the anti-vaccination movement. It was true that the doll never caught any diseases, but of course, her head was stuffed with straw. • What a great idea for a movie plot. During the Second World...Read more
Sex Week Drag Show performers share stage experiencesUTDailyBeacon.com, April 13th
Twelve students braved the stage with extensive costumes and props, and punny stage names, like "Raggedy Max" who stepped out of a Raggedy Ann-style doll box and "VaCeline Dion," who baptized an attendee under a flowing blue cloth while dressed as ...Read more
Rescue a Pet: Raggedy AnnWPRI 12 Eyewitness News, April 8th
Raggedy Ann has a health condition called hyperthyroidism, which is managed with medication and doctor visits. She is very sweet and easygoing. However, she is not a fan of other cats but she may get used to other dogs. If you'd like to adopt Raggedy...Read more
The Strange Link Between Raggedy Ann and the Anti-VaxxersPhiladelphia Magazine (blog), February 23rd
I didn't have a Raggedy Ann doll when I was little, but I had Raggedy Ann books, written and illustrated by one Johnny Gruelle. The one I especially remember was called Raggedy Ann's Lucky Pennies. What I mostly remember about it was that it was dark ...Read more