Casino Instant Payment Nascar Las Vegas 2010 Rtg Casinos Ratings Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa Internet Casino Games Match Deposit Bonuses Las Vegas Gaming Coupons Us Microgaming Casinos Online Casino With Real Money Home Depot Free Shipping Casino Online Best Odds Online Slots Usa Players No Deposit Online Casino Forums No Deposit Bingo Online Southwest Florida Entertainment Casino Gaming Machines Online Slots For Us Players Newest Rtg Casino Online Casinos No Downloads Internet Map Us Crazy Vegas Bingo Cherry Online Casino Free Play No Download Slots Online Casino Games For Free Usa Slot Casinos Play Online American Express Cirrus Online Casino Free No Deposit Casino Chips Casino Bonus For Usa Players Certificates Of Deposit Rushmore Casino Bonus 2010 Free Money Codes For Rtg Casinos Play Black Jack 21 Debit Card For Casinos Play Free Games Casino Yukon Gold Casino Bally Antique Slot Machine Free Casino Video Slots Best Online Blackjack For Us Players Cherry Red Casino Free Online Casino Codes Play Free Flash Casino All Slots Online Casino Play Online Casinos In Usa Online Casino Sweden Best Online Slot Games Antique Slot Machine Parts Virtual City Casino Casino Cash No Deposit Codes Buy Myspace Poker Chips Best Us Allowed Casinos Gambling Online Roulette New Slots To Play Online Coupon Books For Las Vegas Free Slots Real Money No Download Online Casino Online Blackjack Strategies Free Vegas Slots Online Games Australian Casino Tournaments Online Casinos For Usa Players Flash Best Casino Gambling Offer Online No Deposit Casino Bonus List Craps Practice Game 9 Line Slot Games Casino In Africa Usa Casino Deposits Casino Slot Machines Sale Canada Casino Slots Casino No Deposit Bonus Codes Online Casino Deposit Methods Free Online Bingo For Money Free Slot Game Sites Rtg Bonus Codes No Deposit Usa Internet Casinos Online Free Online Casino Cash No Deposit Casino Forum Portal No Deposit Instant Bonus List Best Online Slots No Downloads Instance No Deposit Bingo Play No Deposit Required Casino Codes Slots Real Money Us Gamble Online At Vegas Casinos Online Slots Payout New Casino No Deposit Required No Deposit Bingo Sites Best Internet Games Rtg Bonus Casino Codes Hoyle Casino 2006 Online Baccarat Tournament Bonus For Mac Casinos American Casino Guide New Slots Machine No Deposit Online Casino Promotions Casino Gaming With Sign On Bonus Fort Myers Beach Coupons Virtual Casino Codes Minimum Deposit 1$ Rtg Casinos With Free Chips Free Printable Las Vegas Coupons Brand New Casinos Us Players Cirrus Casino City Roulette Game Rules 5 Reel Slots Machines How To Play Online Slot Machines Free Bingo Sites Us Best Blackjack Casino Best Online Casino Gambling Discount Coupon Swanson Vitamins Craps Come Bet No Download Free Flash Casino Internet Casino Compare Jackpot Party Slot Machine For Sale Free Poker Money No Deposit Required Download Computer Software Cash Back Usa Roulette Online Real Money Internet Casino Bonuses Play Lingo Game Free Online Play Online Gambling South Africa Deposit Casino Coupon Codes Free On Line Casino Free Gambling Money Free Gambling Sites Buy Casino Chips Free Buffet Coupons Las Vegas Sun Vegas Casino Casino Gambling Online Site Us Online Casino That Accepts 900Pay Online Poker Video Download Blackjack Online Casino New Slots Sites All Free No Download Slots Free Slots Usa Best Paying Online Casino Sears Coupon Code 10 New Bonus Codes For Casino Players Las Vegas Bachelor Party Free Online Casino Sites Best Online Casino Games New Slots 2010 Flash Casinos Usa Welcome Top 10 Online Casinos No Deposit Sign Up Bonus Casino Night Events La Slot Machine Free Keno Games Free Online Jackpot Party Slot Nevada Palace Casino Instant No Deposit Casino Codes Used Craps Tables Fast Forum Casino Bonus Free Us Casino Craps Reference Chart Online Casino Macintosh Real Money Gambling For Real Money Mac Las Vegas Free Online Games Best Casino Bonus Percentage Casino Royale Online Movie No Deposit Cash Journey Bonus Online Casino Promotions Best Online Roulette Strategies Harrahs Free Online Casino Games Online Casino Video Slots No Deposit Casino Directories Free Slot Game Cleopatra Baccarat Table Layout Best Odds Online Blackjack Us Online Casinos That Take Amex Play Now For Free Las Vegas Coupons Eating Coupon Codes For Toys R Us Instant Play Rtg Casino Roulette Game Table No Deposit Required Bingo Online Blackjack Real Money Us Accepted Usa Online Casinos Play Fun Slot Machine Free Online Gambling Slots Real Money Online Blackjack Slots Free Casino Bonus Codes Casinos For Mac Free Slots Games Play Online Casino Games For Pc On Line Vegas Slots Best Place To Play Roulette Online Best Online Casino Directory Cat Eye Casino Online Roulette Play Money Reputable Online Slots Western Union Online Casinos No Deposit Casino Codes Play Slot Free Win Money Casinos All Over The World Online Blackjack Casino Gambling Free Online Blackjack Tournaments Free Internet Slot Machines Las Vegas Gaming Tips Casino Slot Game Cleopatra Free Slots Wheel Of Fortune Casino Gambling Game Online 99 Slot Machines Brand New Online Slots Roulette Casino Games Free Vegas Slots Full Tilt Poker Download Kostenlose Online Casino Free Blackjack Sites Free Poker Bonus 100 First Deposit Bonus Roulette Deposit Bonus No Deposit Casino Lists Free Money Casino Bonus Best Bet In Craps Flash Casinos Accepting Checks Free Spins Bonuses Casinos Online Using Amex Hotels Close To Foxwoods Casino Blackjack Game Variations Free Vegas Style Slots Gamble Online Las Vegas Slots For Fun No Download Casino Slot Game Download Slot Bonus Codes Us Online Casino Bonus Australian Casino Online Play Blackjack Online For Prizes Click2Pay Casinos Us Players Online Casino Roulette Spin No Bet Tri Card Poker Betting Strategy Online Bonus Slots Usa Free Online Casino Sign Up Bonus Ruby Fortune Casino Free Online Casino Money Best Slot Casino Free Online Las Vegas Slots Cash Back Shopping Msn Gamble Online Bonus Play Free Mermaid Slot Machine Flash Casino For Mac Free Online Video Slot Machine Usa Casino Sites How To Win On Roulette Online The Palace Casino And Resort 2010 Casino Bonuses Best Online Slots American Online Flash Casinos Buy Poker Chips For Myspace Casino Video Slots No Deposit R 1000 Slot Bonus Free Craps Game Online Used Casino Poker Chips Best Rtg Casinos Codes Sim Slot Free Play Machine No Deposit Required Bonus How To Play Craps Play Blackjack Card Game Play Holdem Poker Internet Free Become A Vip Player Bodog Casino Download Top Casinos 2010 Slot Machine Bank Real Casino For Real Money Free Slot Money No Deposit Best Roulette Casinos Us Online Keno Games Best Online Casino Site Internet Casino Reviews Casino Coupon Free Money Online Free Online Bonus Codes More Game Play Time For You Usa Online Gambling Online Slots Allowed In Canada Free Money Poker Bonus Code Online Slots Allow Us Players Australian Online Casino Paypal Hodgepodge Gambling Forum Free Halloween Slots Online Casinos That Take Paypal Deposits Bonus Slot Casino Coupons Club Player Casino Bonus Codes Online Casinos Free Cash Seminole Casino Immokalee Play Blackjack Online For Fun No Deposit Casino Promotions 30 Free Slots Games First Vegas Casino Promotion Codes For Online Usa Casinos Play Free Casino Games Free Casino Cash Bonus Code Prism Casino Coupon Bonusrating Free Slot Machine Games Real Casino Games Downloads Texas Tea Slot Machine Igt Slot Machines Online Blackjack Startup Money Casino Download Free Net Internet Discount Coupon Codes Online Casino Visa Electron Instant Casino Coupon Codes Online Casino For Australians No Limit Roulette Top 10 Online Gambling Casino Hidden Objects Games Rtg No Deposit Codes Casino Slot Machines Best No Deposit Casino Deals Play Online Slots United States How To Save Extra Money New Casino Promotion New Online Casino Online Casinos That Use Moneybookers Credit Cards Online Casino Sportsbooks Royal Vegas Poker Best New Online Casinos Play Slot Machines Online For Real Money Play Casino Slots Online Casino Online No Deposit Cleopatra Online Casino 3 Deck Blackjack Online Las Vegas Free Online Slots Online Blackjack Casino Free Bingo Money No Deposit Free Online Slots Casino Golden Palace Casino Jennings Slot Machine Parts Download Go Casino Casino Games Online Niagara Falls Casino In Canada Newest Usa Online Gambling Sites Rome Casino Bonus Codes Play Online Blackjack No Download Blackjack For Mac Usa No Deposit Casino Codes No Deposit Real Money Slots Free Play On Slots Free Online Slots Video Poker Best Payout Online Casino Flash Casino For Usa Coupon Free Gambling Las Vegas Casino Free Net Play Top Casinos For Us Players Nine West Coupons Free Casino Slot Game Fun Sikkim Lottery Results Palmercash Coupon Codes Omni Casino Forum Usa No Deposit Casino Bonus Best Online Slots With Bonus Rounds Online Slots Video Poker Roulette Free Play Non Rake Back Poker Bonuses Internet Casinos Bonus Free Casino Slots No Download Golden Casino Free Slots Card Gamble Slot Machines Online Casino Amex Visa Mastercard Desert Dollar Casino Free Fun Slots No Download Lake Palace Hotel Us Casino Bonuses New Video Slot Games Free Line Casino Games Live Search Cash Back Play Blackjack No Downloading Online Gambling Slots For Real Money Play For Free Online Casino Three Card Poker Games Online Casino Games Caribbean Stud Poker No Download Pokies For Fun Online Slots Pay With Debit Card Casino Game Jackpot Online Slot Online Vegas Casino Flash Reputable Online Gambling Sites Play Casino On Line Play Free Online Video Slots Free Play Thunderstruck Slots Best Flash Online Casinos Aol Free Casino Games No Deposit Required Casino Lists Free Casino Bonus No Deposit Free 30 Online Slots High Roller Bonuses All Slots Flash Casino Jack Bonus Insurance American Online Gambling Casinos Realistic Free Video Slots Free Video Poker No Download Casino Slots Video Games Online Casino Royale Mac Casino Bonus Codes Online Gambling No Deposit Bonus Free Slots With Bonuses Free No Purchase Casino Bonus Casinos Offering Free Spins Slot Machines In Arizona Play Free Video Keno Online Play Free Bingo Online Cleopatra 2 Slot Online Casino For Us Players Flash Play Free Slots Tri Card Poker Game Online Slot Video Games Slot Machines Bonus Rounds Craps Betting Strategy Bingo Children Play Online Free Bodog Online Casino And Sportsbook Play Blackjack Counting Cards Flash Casino Bonus Codes List Casino Royale Games Casino Slots With 25 Lines 10 Top Online Casinos Free Slots Win Real Money Free Online Bingo Sites Wild Jack Casino High Roller Casino Free Online Casino Bonus Online Casinos With Bonuses That Accepts Us Players Las Vegas Slot Coupons Skill Stop Slot Machine No Deposit Casinos 2010 Online Casinos Accepting Amex All Free Online Word Games Play Roulette Online Free Fort Myers Restaurant Coupons Free Slot Machine Cleopatra Party City Casino Codes Biggest Rtg Bonuses Texas Holdem Chips Free Online Slots Desert Treasure 9 Line Slots Used Casino Chips Las Vegas Buffet Coupons Printable Slot Machines With No Download Progressive Slots Online Como As Ranhuras Trabalham Free Government Money American Express Casinos Seminole Casino Coconut Creek Best Internet Casino Bonus No Deposit Bonus List Bonus Slot Machine All Slots Casino No Deposit Cash Coupons Click2Pay Casino Blackjack Debit Mastercard Casinos Rushmore Casino Instant Play Us Slot Casinos Brand New Slots Online Yahoo Free Bingo Games Free Roulette Online New No Deposit Bonus Codes Best Casino Gambling Online Play Top Offers Casino Bonus South Africa Online No Download Flash Casino Free Real Casino Slots Us Casinos Using Ewallet Best Usa Casino Sites Instant No Deposit Bonus Casino Slot Tournaments With No Download No Deposit Casino Coupon Codes Free Casino Play Promotions Free Internet Slot Games Best Iphone Slot Machine App Tri Card Poker New Bonus Codes For Gambling Internet Casino Sites Online Blackjack Betting Free Casino Practice Games Casinos Using Top Game Software Casinos That Take Usemybank Casino Slots Guide Gamble Online Bonus Specials A Night Out Slot Bodog Coupon Code Us No Deposit Poker Bonus Blackjack Real Money Printable Las Vegas Restaurant Coupons Free Online Cherry Slot Games List Of Rtg Casino New Casino Codes Casino Online Casino Casino 9 Line Slot Machines Online Roulette Game Play Online Beat Roulette Online Free Casino Chips No Deposit Required Free Online Bonus Screen Slots New Online Casino Bonuses Highest Payout Casinos Online Bonus Casino Code Coupon Free Casino Deposit Bonus Online Casino United States Players Free Slots For You High Deposit Bonus Codes Online Video Poker Games For Money Best Free Online Slots Casino First Deposit 1000 Bonus Casino Gambling Guide
A Glorious Legacy
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Friday, 01 October 2004 00:00

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, Bertha Behrman was known internationally as Madame Beatrice Alexander.

From early childhood, Bertha was seemingly destined for greatness. She was smart as a whip, won poetry and composition prizes at school, and exhibited a true talent in art. In later years, she would talk about an opportunity that she had been offered to study in Paris, learning the fine points of sculpting while making her way among the Seine’s bustling café society. She had to turn down the scholarship to study abroad because her parents, Hannah and Maurice, had suffered a financial downturn and needed her to help the family out of their dire straits. Bertha took a job as a clerk, but she vowed to find a better way to express herself and her burning artistic streak.

When the Great War, known to us as World War I, streaked across the headlines in 1914, Bertha saw an opportunity to raise her country’s morale, fulfill her desire to create and make some much-needed money. She persuaded her three younger sisters, Rose, Florence and Jean, to gather around their parents’ kitchen table and instructed them on how to make an “indestructible doll.” During their childhoods, father Maurice Alexander ran a doll shop and doll hospital, where most of his business involved the selling and repairing of porcelain dolls. Bertha rallied her sisters to create a muslin doll, stuffed with excelsior, that would salute Red Cross nurses. The dolls were an enormous success, and the seeds of the Alexander Doll Company were sown.

alexander-coquettecissyBertha Alexander Behrman envisioned an American doll company that would rival the beauty and exquisiteness of their European counterparts. However, Bertha was determined that little girls would not be reduced to tears if they dropped one of their Alexander dolls. With every chemical revolution in plastics and in rubber, Bertha was there, urging her manufacturers to learn the craft and to perfect it.

Bertha Behrman is an American legend. And her rise from a struggling, scholarly child in Brooklyn, and then New York’s Lower East Side, to a powerful, professional executive who presided over a doll empire is the stuff of Horatio Alger rags-to-riches tales. It is interesting that while creating this unique Ameri­can art form–dolls that uncannily mimicked the stars, celebrities, heroines of the day–Bertha was reinventing herself as Madame Beatrice Alexander, an identity that smacked of European or Russian aristocracy. She loved the notion that her dolls were a goal for American families on the rise–buying your daughter an Alexander doll was a status symbol, an overt nod that the Mr. and Mrs. were on the right track. And the belief that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” was the mantra that Madame Alexander pressed upon her designers, craftsmen and workers.

Known to be autocratic at times, difficult and headstrong, Madame Alexander was carving out a niche in history. She recognized the ability to turn dolls into touchstones of popular culture and of historic significance. Since she was such a bookworm and was so smitten with the cinema, many of Alexander’s past triumphs and present breakthroughs revolve around literary characters and movie personalities. She also devoured newspapers and fought to re-create figures torn from the headlines in doll form: the First Ladies, the Dionne Quintuplets, Queen Elizabeth, to name a few.

The world needed a Madame Alexander, a petite dynamo of energy who proved that nothing was impossible if one desired it hard enough. If she hadn’t invented this regal and impeccably groomed dollmaker, a doyenne who presided over the birthing of lovely and elegant playthings, a marketing whiz would have dreamed her up. One may wonder if there really was a Betty Crocker or an Aunt Jemima, but we all know there truly was a Madame Alexander. It didn’t matter that she began her life in a bustling borough, bargaining with peddlers and dealing with customers in her father’s store. In her mind, she was elsewhere–someplace better. While she read Shakespeare, curled up on a bench in her parents’ small cement backyard, the strains of Yiddish, German and Russian wafted about her. Decades later, she would be shaking hands with senators, speaking with presidents, and receiving correspondence from mayors and secretaries of state. As the great American innovator and painter Georgia O’Keeffe observed, “Where I was born, and where and how I have lived, is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

Madame Alexander was always an optimistic, forward thinker, and that is why her company, formally established in 1923, in Harlem, New York, still survives today. And most important, that is why it has been selected to receive a Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Madame Alexander was the first with lots of different doll innovations and designs,” explains Gale Jarvis, president of the Alexander Doll Company. “She was an entrepreneur, a woman with ambition and a wonderful imagination. She used those gifts to create beautiful, beautiful dolls.”

For six years, Jarvis has been at the helm of the Alexander firm. It has en­dured its ups and downs in the late 1980s into the early 1990s, but it is on a steady course today. “When I was a child, I played with Madame Alexander dolls. In fact, the last doll I received as a little girl was a Cissy,” Jarvis recalls. “I knew the company had a high profile in the American landscape. I even knew that as a child, but when I became vice president of toys at Macy’s, I then realized how well-respected the name truly was.”

When Jarvis learned of the Jones Publishing tribute that is planned for her organization, she was gratified. “It is good to be recognized by peers, especially for the high standards we try to maintain. After 81 years, it’s nice to be recognized for creating and continuing the history of the oldest doll company.”

Marianne Graf, director of design for the Alexander Doll Company, agrees wholeheartedly. “Our president, Gale Jarvis, leads us in the right direction. She urges us to think about keeping the line fresh, keeping it new. How many companies can take a 50-year-old doll and make it new again?”

The doll “of a certain age” that Graf is toasting is Cissy. Unbelievably, Cissy, the bastion of haute couture and sophistication, is celebrating her half-century mark next year. Like a fine wine, this cosmopolitan creation is only getting better with time. “We thought it would be a nice twist for her birthday to take her from the larger, imposing 21-inch size down to a smaller, more space-saving 10 inches,” Jarvis and Graf explain.

“Coquette Cissy and Coquette Jacqui are marvelous mini versions of the larger 21-inch versions,” Graf enthuses. “These dolls came about because collectors are always looking for something new. Cissy will always be a favorite, but not everyone has room for such large dolls anymore. Also, the pricing will be a little more attractive, too.”

alexander-marypoppins-jane-michaelGraf, who has been with the firm for 13 years, is well versed in the company’s history and achievements. She and the rest of the design team often look to the heady past to help tool the heartwarming future. “If we continue to maintain the standards that Madame set, all of our current offerings will stand the test of time,” Graf affirms. “Madame Alexander had an exquisite eye for beautiful things. Because she was attracted to the finer things in life, she took the extra step to add the details that set her apart from the rest of the world. Because of quality, she created dolls that last forever.”

When Jarvis is asked which of her current wares will stand the test of time, she muses for a moment. “I think our new eight-inch Asian and African-American face sculpts will remain popular. Likewise, our articulated Wendy dolls and our special projects like Olivia, Eloise and Hannah Pepper.”

Yes, indeed, Alexander Doll Company has named a young girl doll after Hannah Pepper, the brave immigrant woman who journeyed to these shores to settle down and raise daughter Bertha.

It is that ability to salute the past–personal and public–that has always hallmarked the Alexander Doll Company. The individuals who comprise the company have never forgotten where they came from, or what they are striving toward.

“I feel the dolls pull at people’s heartstrings,” assesses Graf. “Maybe many of them remember something from the past and want to make sure that feeling is passed on.”

Jarvis speaks for her entire team when she vows: “We want to be known as a great doll company that has great products and great value. It’s all about the dream for the collector. We have fun re-creating that. It’s the company’s legacy, and we honor it.”

.

Trackback(0)

TrackBack URI for this entry

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

smaller | bigger

busy