Women of Valor

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Milestone Creations

Beatrice Alexander, 1895 - 1990

By the early 1950s, Alexander's reputation earned her a challenging commission: the department store Abraham & Straus asked her to produce dolls representing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. After lengthy research and consultation with the British Museum of Costume, Alexander created a 36-doll set that included the queen, maids of honor, archbishops, choir boys, royal relatives, and honor guards. She purchased cloth from the same mill that manufactured the real coronation robes and insisted upon authenticity even for unseen undergarments. The resulting set - valued in 1953 at $25,000—was so accurate that CBS used it to recreate the coronation on television. Thousands flocked to see it on display.

Two years later, Alexander created a stir when she debuted Cissy, the first full-figured high-heeled fashion doll, four years before Barbie entered the world. "For three years we kept that one back," she later said. "We were afraid of the D.A.R. and other women's groups." And perhaps the fear was justified: "In her black lace chemise or white lace covering over her pink body, the buyers [at the toy fair] ogled her ecstatically and I had to convince them it wasn't meant for a peep show," she commented with disgust. "I was seriously introducing fashion" to young girls.

Notes: 
  1. Information about Coronation dolls from Stephanie Finnegan, et. al., Madame Alexander Dolls: An American Legend (Portfolio Press, 1999).
  2. Quote beginning "For three years...." cited in "She put fashion in the dollhouse," Business Week, December 24, 1966: 61.
  3. Quote beginning "In her black lace chemise..." cited in Vivian Brown, "Dolls for the Bicentennial," Titusville Herald, March 25, 1975.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Beatrice Alexander - Milestone Creations." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/alexander/milestone-creations>.