Summer of 1967, Ponce, Puerto Rico, the porch of my great-aunt Olga's house. On my lap: a Betsy McCall doll, the one that had jointed arms and knees so she could be posed different ways. I remember I had her on my lap on the plane, too. I flew alone; my older sisters had arrived earlier that summer. I remember that clownish romper very well--I loved it! You can see from my legs the mosquitoes loved me, too. My thick curly hair was unruly in the humid climate, so short was best. I was almost 12, not quite ready to give up dolls and paper dolls. In addition to store-bought sets, I drew a few of my own, with big heads and little bodies, and wardrobes of mini-skirts and double-breasted coats. Wish I had saved those hand-mades!
Betsy McCall was created in 1951 as a paper doll in McCall's magazine. The doll was produced the following year by Ideal in a large size and later American Character, an 8 inch version, which is the one I had. Since the 1990s, the Robert Tonner has produced a charming version in different sizes. You can read more here.
To see how Betsy McCall evolved as a paper doll, check out Teri Pettit's excellent web site. Teri has quality scans of many rare and hard to find paper dolls, and she's made it easy to save to your computer and print out. Thank you, Teri!
Here's one sheet from Teri's site; click to enlarge:
The Betsy McCall series is a favorite with collectors, for the paper doll and the little stories that go along with it. I've sought out sheets that feature some of my favorite New York City places: the Guggenheim Museum, the Young People's Concerts at Lincoln Center, and Central Park. I also enjoy finding sheets that feature shows I loved as a child, such as Pollyanna (shown here) and Romper Room.
Click the sweet logo below to see a dozen dolls or more...