Popular Dolls Through the Decades in Honor of Doll Day
Today we celebrate National Doll Day (always celebrated on the second Saturday in June) and we could certainly go in a lot of directions with this one! There are likely three camps of people out there. Ones like my husband who are quite frankly terrified of dolls, others that love and collect all sorts of beautiful dolls, and ones like me that loved them growing up and are now kind of indifferent to the little creatures.
In honor of all kinds of dolls, let’s chat about one of the most popular dolls in each decade! Of course, we can’t mention every single one in this list, so be sure to comment and tell us your favorite, lesser-known dolls too.
Kewpie dolls became a fad in the early 1900s based on illustrations by Rose O’Neill. These dolls were typically made of bisque porcelain and celluloid. Not only were they a toy for children but were often used to support causes. They were dropped out of a plane during a women’s suffrage rally with parachutes and sashes with “Votes for Women” written on them. Cute for a cause! Raggedy Ann dolls were also well-known at this time and have been around for over 100 years!
As child star Shirley Temple’s fame grew, a variety of products featuring the adorable curly-haired girl came out including Shirley Temple dolls. The original dolls came in multiple sizes and were meant to look just like Temple, even down to her iconic dimples. You could also buy different outfits for the doll based on her many films and adorable outfits.
In the ’40s, Ideal dolls became a thing and were the very first dolls to feature plastic parts. While Ideal baby dolls were a big seller, you could also grab ones in the likeness of Judy Garland and other famous celebrities of the time.
Barbie, one of the most popular if not the most popular doll of all time, got its start in 1959. Since then, she has truly built an empire, and a new Barbie movie is set to come out this summer. Over the years, the doll has changed so much and has added new accessories and friends in every new decade. At the time, most dolls were baby dolls or infants, and the creator, Ruth Handler, saw her daughter playing with adult-looking paper dolls and had the idea for a new kind of toy. It definitely filled a new gap in the toy industry.
G.I. Joe wasn’t always the small action figure he is most known for. In the ’60s, he started out as a doll marketed more toward boys. They made sure to never use the term doll though, since it was not considered manly to play with dolls in this time period. Ever since, G.I. Joe has become a national phenomenon much like Barbie. Another star of the decade, we can’t forget about Mrs. Beasley, based on Buffy’s best friend on Family Affair. She had several catchphrases including “Long ago I was a little girl just like you!”
Talking dolls became all the rage in the ’70s. While they had been around for quite a while, we would be remiss not to mention them. There was even one of Redd Foxx from Sanford & Son. When you pulled the string, he would say “Your daddy sat on me!” Hmm…
Cabbage Patch Kids are softer dolls that even come with their own birth certificates and adoption papers. In the ’80s, they became so beloved by children that there were often fights between parents to get the latest dolls for Christmas gifts. Cabbage Patch Kids sparked a craze that did not slow down anytime soon. Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite were two more dolls that everyone wanted. Rainbow Brite dolls were based on an animated series of the time and Strawberry Shortcake had that iconic smell that never seems to go away!
American Girl dolls were started in the ’80s but really boomed in popularity in the 1990s. It seems as if every girl had one. You could purchase a doll based on your own unique features or one based on a story the company created based on different time periods in history. There are now books, movies, and new dolls that come out every so often. You can even visit certain locations called the American Girl Store to purchase accessories and have lunch with your doll.
While many of these dolls stood the test of time and are still asked for each Christmas, the 2000s and 2010s did bring a few new dolls including Polly Pocket, Monster High and Bratz dolls. These are both smaller dolls meant for older girls, proving that you’re really never too old to play with dolls.
Which of these dolls did you own or still own? Which ones are your favorites?