Aug 312012

American Character was one of the leading doll makers in America from 1919 until the mid-sixties. While their composition dolls are sought after by collectors, it is the hard plastic and vinyl dolls of the 50s and 60s, such as Sweet Sue, Toni, Tiny Tears, Tressy and Betsy McCall, that are this company’s enduring legacy.

The company name was changed to American Doll and Toy Corp. in 1960; they also did business under the name American Miniature Doll Corp. during this same era. By 1968, they were no longer in business. For more information, see Judith Izen’s book “American Character Dolls”.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Composition Dolls
American Character’s early dolls were either all-composition, or had composition head and limbs with a cloth body. Many were sold under the trade name “Petite” and are marked and tagged with that name. Some of their popular baby dolls were Bottletot and Happytot. Little Love is a compo infant who resembles the famous Bye-Lo Baby doll. They made many little girl dolls as well, including Sally Joy and Carol Ann Beery, a celebrity doll representing the daughter of Hollywood actor Wallace Beery.

Composition baby doll by American Character This 13″ baby has a compo head and arms on a cloth body. Many of the Petite babies look very similar to one another, so exact identification is tricky.

Vintage Puggy doll by American Character Vintage Puggy doll by American Character Puggy is an all compo character boy made in the late 1920s. He is 13″ tall and has plenty of personality.

Vintage composition girl doll by American Character Vintage composition girl doll by American Character Vintage composition girl doll by American Character This girl doll is a companion to Puggy. The same doll with side-glancing eyes was sold as the Campbell Kid.

Composition Sally doll by American Character Composition Sally doll by American Character Sally was very similar to Effanbee’s popular Patsy family dolls. She was sold in the 1930s with molded hair or a mohair wig, and in an all-composition version as well as the one with cloth torso.

Hard Plastic Dolls
American Character’s best loved dolls are the ones made of hard plastic. In addition to the dolls described below, other hard plastic dolls made by the company include the I Love Lucy Baby (later made in vinyl and called Ricky Jr.), Toodles and Baby Sue.

Vintage Tiny Tears doll by American Character Vintage Vintage Tiny Tears doll by American Character Tiny Tears was one of American Character’s biggest successes. Not only could this doll drink and wet, she could cry too! She was made with a hard plastic head and rubber body from 1950 to ’58; and with a hard plastic head and vinyl body from 1959 to ’61, in several sizes. The earlier dolls had molded hair or a caracul (baby lambskin) wig, later on she had synthetic hair rooted into a vinyl skullcap inset into the top of her head. A rare black version was called Baby Tears. Various vinyl versions of Tiny Tears were made in the 1960s.

Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Hard plastic Sweet Sue is the other doll most closely identified with American Character. She was produced from 1948 to 1956 in sizes ranging from 15″ to 31.” Early dolls had mohair wigs but most dolls have synthetic hair. Later dolls have the hair rooted into a vinyl skullcap which is inset in the top of the head. Some dolls have various American Character markings on the back of the head, but many are unmarked, which is a source of confusion and consternation for collectors. Vinyl head versions of Sweet Sue were made as well (see below).

Vintage Betsy McCall dolls by American Character Vintage Betsy McCall dolls by American Character Betsy McCall started life as a paper doll in McCall’s Magazine. She became three dimensional with Ideal’s vinyl version in 1952. In 1957, American Character began producing Betsy in this 8″ hard plastic version. She was hugely popular and had many extra outfits available. See below for other versions of Betsy. In recent years 8″ and 14″ Betsy have been reproduced by the Tonner Doll Co.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Vinyl Dolls
American Character began the vinyl era with stunningly beautiful and well-made dolls. As the years went by, they ventured into more unusual products and the quality generally declined. In addition to the dolls described below, other vinyl dolls they made include Ricky Jr., Baby Sue, Chuckles, Sonny Boy and Little Love. Toward the end of the company’s history, they made a line of vinyl action figures as a tie-in to the Bonanza TV series.

Lifesize Sweet Sue doll by American Character Lifesize Sweet Sue doll by American Character Life-Size Sweet Sue is 31″ tall with a vinyl head and arms on a hard plastic torso and legs. She was offered from 1954-56. Other vinyl versions of Sweet Sue include Walking Sweet Sue with Peekaboo Eyes and the Sweet Sue all vinyl toddler doll. These dolls were all little girls with flat feet, but Sweet Sue grew up and got glamour a few years later.
Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson
Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll by American Character Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot by American Character Sweet Sue Sophisticate is the grown up version of Sweet Sue. She has a mature figure and feet shaped to wear high heeled shoes. She was made in 14″, 20″ and 25″ sizes. Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot is very similar, but has jointed ankles which enable her to wear ballet slippers, high heels or flats; and a smaller sub-teen bustline.
Visit these pages for lots more information:
Sweet Sue SophisticateSweet Sue with Flexible Foot
Vintage Toni doll by American Character Vintage Toni dolls by American Character American Character’s version of Toni is nearly identical to Sweet Sue Sophisticate. She was made in 10″, 14″, 20″ and 25″ sizes. The 10″ version had many extra outfits which could be purchased separately. Toni was a tie-in to Gillette’s Toni Home Permanent and came with a Playwave kit to style her hair.
Visit these pages for lots more information:
10″ Toni10″ Toni’s Outfits14″, 20″ and 25″ Toni

Vintage Betsy McCall doll by American Character Vintage Betsy McCall doll by American Character The success of the 8″ Betsy McCall led American Character to introduce her in 14″ size with a vinyl head in 1958. This version was only available for two years. There was also a 20″ Betsy with flirty eyes; 22″ and 29″ dolls with a different face sculpt; and a 34″ companion-size Betsy. None of these larger dolls had extra outfits like the original 8″ Betsy.

Toodles by American Character Toodles was a name that American Character used over and over for baby dolls. There was a rubber version in the ’30s and a hard plastic version in the ’40s; but the all vinyl Toodles, made in several different versions in the 1950s and ’60s, is the one most well known today. The doll pictured is the earliest vinyl version, made from 1955 to ’59. She was a drink and wet baby, but lacked the crying feature of Tiny Tears. Later on there were infant, toddler and little girl versions of Toodles.

American Character Whimsies Annie the Astronut doll American Character Whimsies Freddy the Friar doll American Character Whimsies Trixie the Pixie doll American Character Whimsies Wheeler the Dealer doll The Whimsies were all vinyl novelty dolls that were aimed at older kids and teenagers. They were produced in 1960 and ’61. A total of 17 different styles were made. Pictured left to right are: Annie the Astronut, Freddy the Friar, Trixie the Pixie and Wheeler the Dealer. Another doll, Hedda Get Bedda, is similar to the Whimsies, except that her head rotates with three different faces: a sick face, a sleeping face, and happy “all bedda” face. There was also a series of Tiny Whimsies that were 6″ and 7.5″ tall, with less detail and glow in the dark shoes.

_doll (3K) _tresbox1 (1K) Tressy, introduced in 1963, was American Character’s version of Mattel’s Barbie. Tressy had something Barbie didn’t, however: “growing” hair that could be lengthened or shortened by means of a keywind mechanism. (Although the catalog illustration shows Tressy wearing navy blue, she was actually sold in a red dress.) Like Barbie, Tressy had extra oufits and a little sister (Cricket). Tressy’s friend Mary Makeup had very pale coloring that could be enhanced with colored pencils. A version of Tressy with this same feature was called Magic Makeup Tressy. Tressy was very popular and is commonly found today, although her extra outfits and playsets are harder to find. There was also a Pre-Teen Tressy, who had the grow-hair feature in a larger 14″ doll.

_echo (4K) Little Miss Echo is one of the battery-operated talking dolls made by American Character in the early 1960s. She is 30″ tall and has a tape recorder in her chest. Other talking dolls the company made include Sally Says, Babie Says and Babie Babbles. Suzy Two Steps is a battery operated walking doll made in 1966.
Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.

Dolls of Other Materials
American Character also made dolls of rubber in the first half of the twentieth century. Most of these dolls have not survived because the rubber hardens, cracks and deteriorates over time. Many of their early hard plastic babies have rubber bodies, and they are hard to find in good condition.
The company made a brief foray into the manufacture of cloth dolls in the late fifties with Eloise, based on the children’s book character by Kay Thompson.

Learn More:

American Character Dolls
by Judith Izen
Find it on eBay.
Dolls & Accessories of the 1950s
by Dian Zillner
Find it on eBay.
The Doll & Teddy Bear Department
edited by Thomas W. Holland
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2006-2012 by Zendelle Bouchard.

  38 Responses to “American Character / American Doll & Toy Corp.”

  1. I have a Whimsie doll dated 1960 with cloths that look like an English boy. On the foot is has 18A. Do you know anything about this doll.

    • The only one that might be described that way is Wheeler the Dealer, pictured above with the black pants and red vest. He has a painted on moustache. If that’s not him, post another comment and describe his outfit. Thanks for your question.

  2. My sister who was born in 1951 had a Hedda get Bedda doll. The reference on the computer says the doll was made in 1960. My sister had the doll as a baby. Can you tell me which company made it?

    • Hedda Get Bedda was first produced in 1961; but there were a couple of earlier similar dolls whose face changed by means of a knob at the top of the head. Trudy, produced by 3-in-1 Doll Corp. in 1947 had a composition head and cloth body; Trilby made by Ideal in 1951 had a vinyl head and limbs with a cloth body. Both of these dolls had smiling, crying and sleeping faces.

  3. I believe American doll made a vinyl doll in the early 50’s with blue , actually aqua hair. I’ve searched books, to no avail. Perhaps you’d know. thanks, so much. kv

    • A few companies made dolls with blue, pink and other unusual hair colors in the 50s, but I don’t know of any that were made by American Character.

  4. Hi, I have an Amer Char Doll. No year @ base of neck, a small openinf @ base of spine, another tinier opening on left buttock. Eyes open/close with up/down motion. Hair appears to be molded on to look like hair,light brown w/ slight wave look. Mouth is open w/ red lips and a small opening, perhaps for a bottle? Head, arms & legs are movable. Head and body, extremities are rubber? Eyes are blue She has a white dress w/ ribbons @shoulders and 3 rows of lace @ bottom of dress, satin slip under dress & cotton panties. No shoes. She is approx. 20 inches in length. I want to sell this doll. Suggestions? How much should I ask for her? Thank you——Linda

    • Hi Linda,
      the first step in determining the value of a doll is to identify it. American Character made a few drink-and-wet baby dolls (that’s what the holes are for!). If the doll has a hard rubber head and softer rubber body, she might be Tiny Tears. She can cry as well as drink and wet; identified by the holes at the inside corners of her eyes. If the doll’s head is soft and flexible, then it is made of vinyl, not rubber. The only Tiny Tears dolls with vinyl heads had rooted hair, so that would rule her out. Another drink-and-wet doll without the crying feature, is Toodles. She was made in 19″ and 21″ sizes with molded hair like yours. She can be identified by her jointed knees and elbows. Toodles was made in many different versions, but only the earliest one had the wetting feature and molded hair. Your doll might also be Ricky Jr. (the baby from the tv show “I Love Lucy”), who has been redressed as a girl. He was available with either molded or rooted hair in 21″ size. Once you figure out which doll you have, post another comment with details about the doll’s condition and we can try to figure out a value. Thanks for writing!

  5. I’m looking for a doll I had as a kid. It was less than twelve inches long, an infant, made of that squeezable plastic or rubber, at least the head was. It was bald with hair drawn in with lines in the plastic, had tiny blue and white eyes, and I’ve seen the exact same doll both anatomically correct (a boy) and not. I had it in the late eighties and early nineties, but it was secondhand when I had it. Any ideas of how to start looking, and I do have one photo of it, but don’t know if theres a place where I could post a picture.

  6. I have what I think is a Whimsie doll. It is a male doll dressed in a red and white nite shirt with a red and white nite cap and a hot water bottle. It has a date of 1960 and number stamped on his foot of 25A. It also has a hair goatee and his head is bald except for hair around the bottom back of his head and over his ears. Can you tell me anything abount this doll. Does it have any sort of money value?

    • Yes, he is one of the Whimsies. His name is Zack the Sack. He was made in 1960 and ’61. He is one of the more common Whimsies dolls. He is worth about $40.

  7. Linda McDonald, above, was asking about a 20 inch American Character doll, adding that her doll had drink and wet feature. The doll I have sounds nearly identical to hers, but is 12 inches tall, with a vinyl head and rooted hair, however no visible tear ducts, just an open mouth and tiny hole on right buttock for drink and wet feature. Arms and legs are are permanently crooked and movable. Her eyes are blue and close with up and down motion. The original clothing with this doll was a short lavender dress with white lace. Would you know in what year this particular doll was made, and if she had a small bottle to go with her outfit? I am guessing 1960-64, and do not have a bottle or pacifier that might be missing. Any ideas where I could find either of these?

    Thank you for your expertise.

    Jo Anne

    • Jo Anne, The vinyl head dolls that cry do not have tear ducts – only the hard headed versions of Tiny Tears have these. I think your doll is Teeny Tiny Tears. She came out in 1963 and is 12″ tall with rooted hair. She came in a variety of outfits including one like you describe, and had extra outfits available for purchase. In addition to the crying feature, she also blows bubbles, and came with a plastic bubble pipe for this purpose.
      Check out these on eBay and see if you recognize her.

  8. I have a doll, it is a Bride doll. White dress and she has blonde hair. It was my first doll, givien to me at Christmas in 1951, I was borned Dec 14 that year. It is in a pink square box, her dress is in a cicle around her in the back. her eyes open and close. the box only has The Glamour Doll across the top of the box and on the bottom end is has A Star Creation. and An Intriguing Character Doll The Bride written in Black. all other words are in gold. I would greatly appreciate anything you could tell me about her. My Aunt and my mother both are dead and I know nothing else about her.

    • Whatever company made your doll sold her in various outfits, including Cinderella and Senorita. There were many, many companies in the late forties through the fifties making these small hard plastic costume dolls. I don’t have any specific information on “A Star Creation”, although dolls by Rushton Toys were tagged “Rushton Star Creation” so there may have been a connection there. Rushton made mostly plush animals and dolls with plush bodies and soft vinyl faces. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  9. I had a jointed ballerina doll in the 1960’s. I think her neck moved, her arms were jointed at the elbows and her knees and feet were jointed. She had a body of hard plastic and her face were softer plastic. I lived in East TX then where it would had been bought. I don’t know the brand and would love advise to try and find one. I lost it in storage in the 1970’s. I appreciate your advise!

    • Most of the ballerina dolls of the late fifties and early sixties were made by Valentine. Go to this page and click on some of the links, especially Concertina, Doreena, Good Fairy, Multi-Jointed Ballerina and Valentina, and see if they look familiar. Thanks for writing.

  10. In the late 50’s I had an American Character Toni 10.5 ” doll. She had platinum white hair and had turquoise tulle on her teddy (to match her dress). I have not yet seen one with either. Can you help?

    • Nanci, I don’t recall seeing a Toni with platinum hair, although the turquoise tulle rings a bell. Doll manufacturers often used whatever materials they had on hand if they ran short of something. That might have been the case with your doll – or perhaps she was an experiment or prototype. She might also have been a variation for a specific retailer. Or maybe whoever was rooting the hair that day just felt like trying something different! We can never be sure because the manufacturers didn’t keep these kinds of detailed records. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Perhaps if someone else has a platinum Toni they will add a comment.

  11. I recently came across and Suzie the snoozie whimsie doll. She is in her original box, clothes, and has her tag. (She also has plastic covering her). She does need to be cleaned b/c she has a little bit of a musty smell b/c she has sat in a basement for very many many years. I am having trouble locating any kind of reference for her value. Can you help me?

    • Monica,
      It’s difficult to come up with an exact value for her because, while she does have her box and tag, which increases the value, the musty odor and/or need for cleaning definitely decreases the value. If she is unplayed with (perfect hair and face, etc) I would say $100 to $125. If you could clean her up and air her out enough to get rid of the smell, her value would increase. Please take the plastic off of her – if she has some mold or mildew growing that will only make it worse.

  12. I have a heada get bedda doll…it is all vinyl and is stamped on the back whimsie amer doll & toy corp 1960
    reading above it seems the all vinyl were this doll unusual at all. it is mine,but i know nothing about her. thanks 🙂


    • Marilyn, I’m not sure I understand your question, but it seems that you are asking why she is marked 1960 if she was made in 1961. The answer is that the dates found on dolls (not just your doll, but most every doll) is the copyright date, not the date of manufacture. Often the date on a doll is the year before they were actually made. For another example, the first Barbie dolls are marked 1958, when they actually were put on the market in 1959. If this is not what you are asking, please post another comment.

  13. I have a man doll marked Amer doll & toy corp 1960. He has chest hair a mustache a patch of hair on his head and around the base of his head. His eyes are skewed too. Any idea his name an worth?

    • Leigha, sounds like you have one of the Whimsies – Samson the Strongman is the only one who had chest hair. He is one of the harder to find Whimsies but his value would largely depend on condition. Collectors want them in very good shape. The only sold example I could find went for $25 plus shipping, but that one had some condition issues. I think if he were in excellent condition and had his original outfit and dumbbell, he could sell for a lot more.

  14. I have a 1961 American Doll ‘Chuckles’ that is 23″. She needs her hair replaced and the legs need to be restrung. Do you have any advice as to where to send or take? I live in Northern California.

    • Selah, click on the “Links” tab near the top of the page and you will find a link to the Doll Doctor’s Association. They have several members in California.

  15. I found a Wimsies Amer doll in a yard sale date on doll is 1960.can you give me any information ?

  16. I was given a Er.Char. Doll back in the 1955 or 56. I believe she is a sweet sue doll. she is 24″ tall, hard plastic. she was wearing a dark pink taffetta dress. her arms move and also her legs and head. I am trying to find some information on her. any help will be appreciated. thank you

    • Sweet Sue was a popular doll for American Character and she was made in several variations from the late 1940s into the 1960s. Up until 1954 they were made entirely of hard plastic. In 1952 they started making them with a walking mechanism – when one leg moves forward, the other one moves back, and her head turns from side to side as she walks. In the mid-fifties they came out with 31″ “Life Size” Sweet Sue. In 1955 and ’56, Sweet Sue had vinyl (soft plastic) arms. In 1957, a version was made with jointed ankles to wear flat shoes or high heels. Later on there was an all vinyl version of Sweet Sue. She had beautiful outfits that were mostly fancy dresses of taffeta and lace, but she had some cotton school dresses and coats and things too. The clothes are not tagged. The book “American Character Dolls” by Judith Izen has lots of pictures and information about Sweet Sue. If you are trying to find a value for your doll, see “How Much is My Doll Worth?”

  17. I have a 1957 prototype Eloise doll (Life Size)
    It needs repair, but was wondering the value of this item

    • John, the only way to establish a value for an item is to know what similar items have sold for. Because prototypes are so rare, it’s pretty much impossible to know what they are worth until they actually sell. If you are interested in selling her, I would (after getting her repaired) contact an auctioneer that specializes in dolls. Or list her on eBay with a reserve.

      • Thanks!
        I was asking about the value to get an idea whether it was worth repairing or not…I’m guessing it is!

  18. I have a Whimsies doll that was given to my mother for her wedding in 1961. The box says she is “The Bashful Bride.” She is in perfect condition, in the original box, which is also in almost perfect condition. I am just curious as to her value and rarity. Thank you!

    • There are two versions of Bessie the Bashful Bride. The 1960 version has closed eyes, and she is wearing her wedding gown. The 1961 version has half-closed eyes, and she wears her undies and negligee. The second version is much harder to find than the first, and especially if she is in great shape in her original box. I don’t know what the current values are, but if you check out my post “How Much Is My Doll Worth?” that will give you some tips to figuring it out.

  19. I love AC dolls; my favorite being the Butterball doll from 1961!!! I have 35 of them now and I love them: their cute upper lip, big eyes and pert expression are priceless! Look them up! Kim

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