Author: Stephanie Finnegan

Passport to Adventure: Berdine Creedy’s Travel Dolls

When Clint Eastwood strolled on the Red Carpet, on Oscar Night, 2005, his beautiful wife, TV reporter Dina Ruiz Eastwood, held onto his arm and sparkled in her well-tailored gown and tasteful jewelry. Hidden in Eastwood’s other hand, and visible to the discerning eye, was a colorful, comical paper doll. That’s right—Dirty Harry, the Man with No Name, the fellow who has made millions as a macho, silent desperado, carried a paper doll to the Academy Awards ceremony. The cutout figure is Flat Stanley Lambchop and he is part of a national literacy campaign. The two-di­mensional figure has been...

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Bertha Alexander – A Glorious Legacy

Popular wisdom has taught us that it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. In the case of Bertha Alexander, born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1895, her final destination was a far cry from the steaming tenements, rickety pushcarts and hardworking immigrants that surrounded her childhood. When she passed away in 1990, she had lived a life full of creativity, ingenuity, accolades and ac­complishments. Married to a supportive husband, Philip Behr­man, and the proud mother of a daughter, Mildred, Bertha had basked in the respect and affection of her family, and of the entire world. For you see,...

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A Perfect Pairing: Alexander and Marina Royzman

Back in 1967–the “summer of love”–the Beatles were asked to contribute a song for a televised Our World concert. Surrounded by balloons and heart-shaped signs, Lennon and McCartney harmonized and rhapsodized how “All You Need is Love.” The performance, which was broadcast globally into villages and valleys, tried to lay the groundwork for international peace and understanding. In Russia, in the town of Odessa, two young people were deeply affected by the Liverpool lads’ urgings. Young Alexander and schoolgirl Marina were touched by the singers’ refrain of love as a potent healing tool. Decades later, Alexander and Marina are...

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Barbie: A Model Citizen

Doll connoisseurs know that Barbie evolved from a saucy German “cousin” spotted by a vacationing Ruth Handler, the doll’s creator, but even though we recognize her roots are European and acrylic, to boot, she still seems like an honest-to-goodness, flesh-and-blood American gal. Yet who are the talented men and women who help shape and fashion the fantasy of this great American icon? To find out, DOLLS had the unique pleasure of chatting with the guys and gals whose task it is to ensure that Barbie attains her best-dressed appearance year after year. This blue-ribbon panel of fashionistas consisted of...

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Good-bye to Barbie’s “Mom”

Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, passed away on April 27, 2002, at Century City Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 85. From that fateful moment in 1959 when Ruth unveiled a curvaceous, adult doll to a conservative public who didn’t quite know what to make of the “toy,” this enterprising woman had guaranteed herself a spot in the annals of popular culture. It is hard today to understand just how unsettling Barbie must have seemed to mothers and fathers of the time. This is back before adult collectors embraced Barbie as their own mascot; this was in the days when dolls were for little girls, and little girls were destined for babies and domesticity. Ruth Handler changed all that. Born post World War I, Ruth was the last of ten children, a seemingly devoted daughter of Polish immigrants, who spoke only Yiddish around the house. Ruth Mosko was, however, a rebel. Growing up in Denver during these Great Depression days, she was not content to stay at home and marry the boy next door. Instead, she became infatuated with Hollywood. Beckoned by the allure of orange groves and starlets sunning by swimming pools, she moved to Tinseltown, alone, in 1937. She was only 19. From her earliest days, Ruth had exhibited an unbridled quirkiness. In her autobiography, she writes: “I am a fiercely independent woman, one...

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The Real Deal

For more than 40 years, Barbie has embodied a world of infinite possibilities, of countless choices. Whe­­ther decked out in blue jeans or a navy power suit, starched lab coat or a lacy tutu, the curvaceous trendsetter has always looked spec­tacular while leaping over her play­ful competition. It’s not sur­prising, then, that the pony­tailed teen, who has been a candy stri­per, a veterinarian and a NASA astronaut, has or­bited into a billion-doll­ar collectible giant. Bar­bie has had a tremendous im­pact on our pop culture, our lan­guage and our art, but we–the contemporary collectors of Amer­ica–have likewise had an effect...

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