"action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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BankofAmericasSweetheart
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"action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by BankofAmericasSweetheart » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:29 pm

I wasn't sure if this deserved it's own entire thread or not, depends on the response. Does anybody know if they actually made like real dolls or toys out of the silent film stars?

I find it hard to believe they didn't sell like a real Mary Pickford doll with curls ala whatever happened to baby jane, or an action figure toy of Charlie Chaplin, Valentino or Douglas Fairbanks. I know there's a thread about paper dolls but I'm curious if they made like actual doll toys out of these people.
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Monsieur X
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Monsieur X » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:51 pm

I have a china-faced doll of Charlie Chaplin, but I'm not sure whether it was intended as a toy or a display piece.
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Brooksie » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:15 pm

There were plans for a Mary Pickford doll, but it got only as far as a prototype. The prototype does still exist, and there's a picture of it at http://www.liveauctiontalk.com/free_art ... icle_id=27.

There was an Italian firm called Lenci who produced dolls 'inspired by' silent film stars, including Rudolph Valentino and Clara Bow. These weren't toys for children but art objects for grown ups, and they're extremely expensive to buy nowadays. A lot of stars collected these sorts of dolls and were photographed with their collections - for example, here's an article about Claire Windsor and her collection: http://www.lenci-dolls.net/08012006.html.

There weren't many dolls based on silent film stars for children because until the 1950s, most little girls weren't interested in playing with adult dolls, they preferred baby or girl dolls. There were Baby Peggy dolls in the 1920s and Shirley Temple dolls in the early 30s, but it wasn't until the late 30s that they started making dolls based on teenage stars like Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin.

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Richard M Roberts » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:04 pm

Well, in my files somewhere is a Kalem ad offering Ham and Bud dolls, I've awaited a pair to turn up on ebay or the Antiques Road Show, but to no avail. People may have bought them to set on fire or stick pins in.


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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by BankofAmericasSweetheart » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:51 am

I was thinking too even if they had these dolls or toys made of the silent stars back then, companies couldn't just go out and make them without the stars themselves approving it anyways.
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Changsham » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:03 am

My brother owns a pair of Laurel and Hardy porcelain dolls of exceptional quality in tailored suits. They look very old but not sure if they period originals

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:05 am

Not to forget the series of "Silent Screams" action figures that were produced about 10 or 15 years ago. Two sets of four figures, if I recall correctly. I have most of them, but skipped a couple of the really bad ones. They were not, generally speaking, particularly good. Dr. Caligari, for example, was turned into a sick ghoul instead of the respectable-looking professor he was in the movie. And Maria the robot from Metropolis was rather better-endowed than Brigitte Helm ever was.

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Rodney » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:48 am

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by BGM » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:23 am

There were lots of Charlie Chaplin products produced early on including dolls,paperdolls,buttons etc-I have even seen a wooden box to store hankies with his image on it-Mary Pickford was used to promote a brand of soap and beautiful lithographed prints were given away through a soap company. I have seen photos of the planned Mary Pickford doll and it is beautiful-too bad it was not produced. There were Jackie Coogan dolls made at the height of his The Kid fame-There were Our Gang dolls produced late 1920's-in the 1930's Quanita Quigley-the original Baby Jane doll was produced as well as Jane Withers, Sonja Henie, Carol Ann Beery, Anne Shirley, Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks and Baby Sandy. None were as popular as the Shirley Temple dolls and later the Deanna Durbin dolls.

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by FrankFay » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:25 am

Brooksie wrote:There were plans for a Mary Pickford doll, but it got only as far as a prototype. The prototype does still exist, and there's a picture of it at http://www.liveauctiontalk.com/free_art ... icle_id=27.
That would make an excellent doll for the collector's market today, but I think a little girl in 1923 would have found it creepy.
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Bruce Long » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:49 am

Chaplin item from 1915:
http://archive.org/stream/PhotoplayMaga ... 9/mode/1up" target="_blank

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Frederica » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:26 am

FrankFay wrote:
Brooksie wrote:There were plans for a Mary Pickford doll, but it got only as far as a prototype. The prototype does still exist, and there's a picture of it at http://www.liveauctiontalk.com/free_art ... icle_id=27.
That would make an excellent doll for the collector's market today, but I think a little girl in 1923 would have found it creepy.
I find it creepy now.
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by rudyfan » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:49 am

I'm always amazed at the prices vintage dolls command at auctions. 34k!
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Brooksie » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:36 pm

The Mary Pickford prototype is an extreme example because it was one of a kind, but some of the rarer Lenci dolls do attract five figures sometimes. I've seen some of them in person, and they really are beautiful things, exquisitely detailed.

There were lots of knick-knacks based on silent comedians, but not much that you could really call a doll. Once doll collecting started to become a big hobby in the 1970s and they started making dolls specifically for the collector's market, china faced Charlie Chaplins, Laurels and Hardies became quite common (though for some reason, Ham and Bud never attained such lofty heights ...)

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Frederica » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:49 pm

Brooksie wrote: There were lots of knick-knacks based on silent comedians, but not much that you could really call a doll. Once doll collecting started to become a big hobby in the 1970s and they started making dolls specifically for the collector's market, china faced Charlie Chaplins, Laurels and Hardies became quite common (though for some reason, Ham and Bud never attained such lofty heights ...)
And then there's Barbie collecting. My niece once asked me for a Barbie for Christmas, so I braved Toys R Us during the holiday season. Who knew? WALL O'BARBIE!! There were Star Trek Barbies, X-Files Barbies, Bewitched Barbies, Bond Girl Barbies...I ran out of the place gibbering in terror.
http://www.barbiecollector.com/" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Rodney » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:20 pm

Frederica wrote:
Brooksie wrote: There were lots of knick-knacks based on silent comedians, but not much that you could really call a doll. Once doll collecting started to become a big hobby in the 1970s and they started making dolls specifically for the collector's market, china faced Charlie Chaplins, Laurels and Hardies became quite common (though for some reason, Ham and Bud never attained such lofty heights ...)
And then there's Barbie collecting. My niece once asked me for a Barbie for Christmas, so I braved Toys R Us during the holiday season. Who knew? WALL O'BARBIE!! There were Star Trek Barbies, X-Files Barbies, Bewitched Barbies, Bond Girl Barbies...I ran out of the place gibbering in terror.
http://www.barbiecollector.com/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
No "soul-destroying vamp Barbie," with fan, train, cigarette holder, and spider-web action hat? I see an opening in the market! Then you need to purchase Barbie's Malibu oriental dream villa with grovel-action servant, and the "upstanding family-man Ken" for her to use, destroy, and discard.
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Rodney » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:30 pm

That Barbie site is amazing! If you thought the Pickford doll was creepy, imagine having this to play with!
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Frederica » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:40 pm

Rodney wrote:That Barbie site is amazing! If you thought the Pickford doll was creepy, imagine having this to play with!
There's even a National Barbie Convention. http://www.barbieconvention.com/" target="_blank" target="_blank Anyone up for a bet on Barbie collectors vs. silent film fans, numbers? I'll bet the plastic babe skunks us.
Fred
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by FrankFay » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:56 pm

Rodney wrote:That Barbie site is amazing! If you thought the Pickford doll was creepy, imagine having this to play with!
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by misspickford9 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:43 pm

Image
http://rudolphvalentino.org/rudolph-val ... ance-tour/

A Natacha Rambova and Rudolph Valentino doll set were made for winners of the Mineralava Beauty contest...we're not sure if it was or wasn't with the trophy. They were custom made and cost $100 at the time, they tend to go for $5,000 or so when sold...which is rarely.

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Rollo Treadway » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:01 pm

Rodney wrote:Image
Can't recall where I read it, but this particular doll it seems was not mass-manufactured, but a one-of-a-kind personal gift to Buster from a European doll maker who was a fan.

This one I think you could get from the local toy shop, or Sears and Roebuck:
Image

If animated silent film stars count, here's a vintage Felix:
http://img3.etsystatic.com/005/2/730563 ... 5_b45e.jpg

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Gagman 66 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:54 pm

:? These are great! What about the Harold Lloyd Piggly-Wiggly Doll?

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Steve Massa » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:42 pm

I've seen ads in the trades of the early teens for Alkalai Ike/Augustus Carney dolls, and in the late 1930s and early 1940s Lupino Lane dolls were very popular in England during the run of his monster stage hit ME AND MY GIRL.

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Roseha » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:27 pm

Can't recall where I read it, but this particular doll it seems was not mass-manufactured, but a one-of-a-kind personal gift to Buster from a European doll maker who was a fan.
Maybe for his birthday (October 4)?

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Frederica » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:15 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:
Rodney wrote:Image
Can't recall where I read it, but this particular doll it seems was not mass-manufactured, but a one-of-a-kind personal gift to Buster from a European doll maker who was a fan.

This one I think you could get from the local toy shop, or Sears and Roebuck:
Image
Both the Buster and Charlie dolls look more like marionettes to me, does a marionette qualify as a doll? I've always loved that photo of Buster.
Fred
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Brooksie » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:17 am

Wow, what I wouldn't do to get that Buster doll ... if someone feels like making a reproduction of it, my wallet is ready. :D

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Rollo Treadway » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:06 am

Brooksie wrote:Wow, what I wouldn't do to get that Buster doll
More detailed info from the Jeffrey Vance/Eleanor Keaton book: A wooden statue, a gift from a German woodcarver.

Front view:
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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by Smari1989 » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:59 am

A merchandize machine à la Garfield or Superman was perhaps not quite present in the silent era, but certainly there were companies eager to capitalize on the popularity of the greatest film stars of the time, especially that of Chaplin. While the Tramp-facsimile which Chaplin is holding on that rather well-known photo would possibly qualify rather as a "marionette" than a "doll" per se, it's close enough for me. Indeed, I mean to remember that in his autobiography, one of the "Tramp-objects" Chaplin recalled to have noticed when he first witnessed his commercial success first-hand while visiting New York, were "dolls."

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by cawkercitykid » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:21 pm

Just ran across this Gloria Swanson Doll.

Image

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Re: "action figures" or dolls of Silent Stars

Unread post by FrankFay » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Brrrrrr- I could get nightmares about that one. At night that doll prowls the house, looking for unprotected necks.
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