Madame Alexander Fun Facts!
Alexander Doll Company, Inc. was founded 90 years ago by Madame Beatrice Alexander Behrman, the daughter of Russian immigrants. She was raised in her father's doll hospital—the first in America—and often played with the dolls waiting to be mended. Her love of dolls led this dynamic woman to creating her own line of dolls. Madame Alexander infused a sense of excitement and wonderment in her fine quality, handcrafted dolls. She initiated a series of firsts in the toy industry: the first doll based on a licensed character (Alice in Wonderland), which led to the creation of dolls based on characters from popular motion pictures; the first to bring feature baby dolls to market; the first to create dolls in honor of living people (Queen Elizabeth, the First Ladies, the Dionne Quints). Madame Alexander was also the first to introduce the first full figured fashion doll (Cissy) with haute couture outfits.
Did you know…?
o Before beginning the Alexander Doll Company, Beatrice Alexander and her sisters designed a cloth Red Cross Nurse doll in honor of the women who risked their lives on the front lines of the war. The girls were determined to help provide for their family and to create a doll that didn’t break like the German porcelain dolls of the time. The dolls were an instant success.
o In 1923, at the age of 28, Beatrice Alexander founded the Alexander Doll Company. The original workforce consisted of the Alexander sisters and neighborhood men and women who were looking to earn a little bit of extra money.
o The first dolls designed by Madame Alexander were made of cloth and had flat, painted faces. The next set of dolls were also made of cloth but had molded faces with three-dimensional features.
o The original Alexander Doll Company factory was the family kitchen above Beatrice’s father’s doll hospital. It was quickly moved to a studio in downtown Manhattan, which Beatrice rented for $40 each month. The Alexander Doll factory was located in the old Studebaker car factory in New York until 2012 when Kahn Lucas Lancaster acquired all intellectual property and select assets and moved the company to Midtown NY.
o Madame Alexander was the first manufacturer to issue a doll based on a licensed character. The 1930 Alice in Wonderland doll led to the creation of dolls based on characters from literature and popular motion pictures.
o Madame Alexander invented “sleep eyes” (the innovation that allows a doll to close its eyes when its head is tilted back) in the late 1930s.
o In 1942, Madame Alexander created Jeannie Walker, one of the toy industry’s first “walking dolls.”
o In 1944, Madame Alexander created the first line of patriotic dolls. They were made to honor the U.S. Armed Forces bravely fighting in World War II.
o The extremely ornate Portrait Series of dolls was introduced in 1946. They were renderings of film heroines, opera and ballet principals, artists’ muses, public figures, literary characters and members of royalty. The first twelve Portrait dolls were: the June Bride, Carmen, Mary Louise, Renoir, the Groom, Judy, King, Queen, Camille, Orchard Princess, Princess Rosetta, and Rebecca. They sold for a remarkable $75, $15 over the average weekly income in that year.
o Madame Alexander pioneered the use of hard plastic as a new medium for the creation of dolls. The first face mold to be made in this new medium was the Margaret O’Brien doll in 1947.
o The Fashion Academy bestowed their Gold Medal upon Madame Alexander four consecutive years. The first award was presented to Madame Alexander in 1951 in the Alexander Doll Company’s Fifth Avenue showroom.
o Madame Alexander brought all the pomp and circumstance of Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation to life in a collection of 36 dolls dressed in historically accurate costumes. Attention to detail was so strict; the cloth used for the dolls’ robes was obtained from the same mill that had produced the actual coronation mantles. The final result was so convincing that CBS television used the dolls to enact the ceremony for their viewers on air! Today, the original set of Alexander Coronation Dolls resides in the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
o Madame Alexander introduced the very first full-figured, high-heel-wearing fashion doll (Cissy™) that was used in ads for Yardley toiletries and cosmetics that appeared in magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal and McCalls in 1956 and 1957.
o Madame Alexander was so well loved that there is a plaque in Disney World’s Market Square that says her visits in 1955 and 1973 resulted in the park’s highest attendance ever.
o In 1965, Madame Alexander was honored on United Nations Day for her series of international dolls.
o Madame Alexander Dolls have jointed and articulated bodies. The Coquette Cissy and Jacqui Doll have 8 points of articulation: the neck, waist, knees and shoulders. The Cissy Doll has 10 points of articulation: neck, waist, knees, shoulders and elbows. Madame Alexander’s Alex Doll has 18 points of articulation that allow movement from head to toes.
o Madame Alexander believed in honoring the people who helped build the country she loved. Therefore, in 1976, the Alexander Doll Company introduced the First Ladies series. The first 14-inch set included Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolly Madison. Ultimately, there were six different sets, each with six first ladies in their inaugural gowns. These dolls had a brush with fame when featured in the 1990s on the CBS show “Murphy Brown” as decoration in Corky Sherwood’s office.
o Madame Alexander Dolls: An American Legend was publishing in 1999 and was the first ever book about the company that was produced with the cooperation of the Alexander Doll Company and Madame Alexander’s family. The book contains full-color photographs of 758 mint dolls dating from 1930 to 1998.
o In 2000, a line of eight storybook character dolls from Madame Alexander was featured in the McDonald’s Happy Meal. These celebrated storybook couples included Cinderella and Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Hatter, and Hansel and Gretel. Each of the eight miniature Alexander Happy Meal dolls has “sleep eyes.” This was a “first” for a Happy Meal toy.
o In early 2001, Madame Alexander broke out of the closet and into the limelight with cameo appearances on the HBO “Sex & the City” and VH1’s “Rock of Ages”. In one episode of “Sex & the City” a gay couple decides to take their relationship “to the next level.” As the relationship progresses, it is revealed that one of the men is an extremely devoted doll collector – and obsessed with Madame Alexander’s “queen” dolls – Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Sheba, etc. – and prefers to display them in his bedroom, principally on his bed.
o Madame Alexander was also featured on VH1’s video critique show, “Rock of Ages,” a segment of the show was shot in the Alexander Doll showroom. For producers designing a segment where women of “a certain age” would be invited to view a selection of modern videos and asked to offer their comments and impressions, the Madame Alexander showroom was the perfect backdrop. Sitting in the midst of dolls that looked as though they belonged to another era, a group of women who did belong to another area laughed, opined, and generally sounded off about select music videos from contemporary artists.
o The Smithsonian Institute houses several Madame Alexander dolls in its permanent collection.
o In 2005, Madame Alexander’s historic Cissy doll celebrated her 50th anniversary. Cissy™, the “classic haute couture” doll first introduced by the Madame Alexander Doll Company in 1955, was the toy industry’s first true fashion doll and is still as elegant and stylish today. The company also worked with Madonna to create dolls based on the characters from her line of children’s books, The English Roses.
o Madame Alexander partnered with ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television in 2007 and 2008 for two lines of dolls based on the characters of the hit show Desperate Housewives. Dressed in outfits inspired by those seen on the show, the miniature recreations of Bree, Edie, Gabrielle, Lynette and Susan were models of poise and style and, of course, figures of mystery and secrecy.
o In 2008, for the first time in over 15 years, Gray Line New York Sightseeing Hop-On-Hop-Off Double Decker Bus Tour had revised its famous itinerary to include Alexander Doll Company in Harlem. Madame Alexander offers free daily tours and behind-the-scene tours by appointment.
o Madame Alexander introduced Mr. Alexander – Distinguished Gentleman as an escort for Cissy, the ultimate fashion icon. With his leading-man good looks, Mr. Alexander – Distinguished Gentleman, the first male Cissy, made his debut in 2009 in his finest formalwear.
o Madame Alexander collaborated with designer Jason Wu--famous for designing Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown--in 2010 to give its classic Cissy doll an exciting new look. Wu created two collections: the futuristic NEO Cissy By Jason Wu collection consisting of three fashion-forward dolls with a dramatic flair, and the more traditional Cissy Collection Styled by Jason Wu, featuring four dolls with unique texture, bold color and exquisite make-up. Both the Cissy and NEO Cissy dolls are unconventional. They possess a higher range of movement than most dolls, due to their newly engineered jointing that allows them to be posed in lifelike fashion model poses.
o In 2010, Alexander Doll Company acquired the business assets of Lee Middleton Original Dolls, Inc., the Ohio-based manufacturer of authentic collectible, baby and play dolls.
o A new male sculpt was introduced to the Madame Alexander line in 2011.This 10” sculpt was used for Gomez in The Addams Family Musical collection, King Henry VIII for The Tudors collection, and currently, Rhett Butler from the Gone with the Wind collection.
o As the glamorous 1960s recaptured America’s heart with ABC’s show “Pan Am,” Madame Alexander introduced new dolls to bring to life this era: Pan Am Stewardess’ Cisette, Alex and Cissy.
o Author and socialite Candy Spelling is a huge fan of Madame Alexander dolls. Her collection of Madame Alexander dolls was given its own gallery in the chateau she lived in with husband Aaron Spelling. 350 dolls from this collection were auctioned off on November 20, 2011 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The collection included many rare dolls, including “Rachel” from the 1954 Biblical Series, which sold for $11,000.
o On November 23, 2011, Madame Alexander was featured on NBC’s hit comedy “Up All Night,” starring Christina Applegate and Nick Cannon. The scene takes place in a candy shop where Madame Alexander dolls line the walls.
o Madame Alexander’s millions of loyal fans include Demi Moore, Cindy Crawford, Barbara Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, Britney Spears, Tori Spelling, Margaret O’Brien, Mrs. Michael Jordan, the Hilton family, Mrs. Andy Garcia, and Dakota Fanning.
o In 2012, Kahn Lucas Lancaster, Inc., a leading global designer and wholesaler of branded girls’ dresses and fashion collections, acquired all intellectual property and select assets of Alexander Doll Company, Inc. Kahn Lucas had been a long time licensing partner with Alexander Doll under Kahn Lucas’ award-winning Dollie & Me® brand of matching girl and doll apparel and related fashion accessories.