Madame Alexander had many wonderful traits as both a doll maker and a business woman. Perhaps none as integral to her success as her far-sightedness. In 1964 she launched the Brenda Starr doll based on the comic strip newspaper reported which continued her tradition of using fictional characters as inspiration.
The Brenda Starr doll was a little different though and a touch more innovative. This new doll was among the first to represent a modern woman’s role in the world and their struggle for equality, much like the original character that inspired her. For those that are too young to remember, the comic book character was a sharply dressed stylish female newspaper reporter that traveled the globe. Each new story filled with intrigue and adventure while in the background Brenda was always fighting to be taken as seriously as her male counterparts. Appropriately enough the comics original creator, Dale Messick, took on a man’s name as she fought many of the same struggle she wrote about in her strip. Although an inanimate doll could hardly shout a feminist anthem Madame Alexander nonetheless made sure the doll stayed true to the new modern woman’s spirit and vitality.
The basic doll was 12 inches tall, had red rooted hair had well done sleep eyes and stylish ear piercings. The head and arms were made of vinyl while the body was composed of a hard plastic, with joints at the news and the new style high heel feet. When purchased new there were a variety of option levels from fully dressed to wearing nothing more than a simple chemise.
Being a modern gal Brenda Starr needed an outfit for every occasion and she delivered. Fans could purchase a variety of dresses and accessories that were often avail with the doll or sold separately. Her specialty outfits included a rainy day slicker, an elegant Press Club ball gown and her elaborate organdy ball gown. Every day outfits included a stylish cape and matching dress number, sheath dress with an extra wig and the beautiful silver evening gown.
In 1965 The Brenda Starr doll was retired and turned into the much more successful Yolanda line. Throughout the years other companies have sold a version of Brenda Starr, some of which have sold quite well unlike the original. Unfortunately none captured her spirit and place in the modern era quite like the original Alexander version. To my knowledge the last Brenda Starr doll was taken off the market in 2007 and was sold by the Effanbee Company. Who knows if this brave hearted woman shall return yet again.
Elizabeth Ann Washingon