Beatrice Alexander

Beatrice Alexander's sharp business sense and her uncompromising attention to detail made her the most successful and best-loved doll manufacturer of her time. The daughter of a doll-maker who ran a "hospital" for broken toys, Alexander joined the family business at an early age and quickly began designing and marketing her own dolls. In 1923 she created the Alexander Doll Company, which not only survived the Great Depression but remained an industry leader throughout her lifetime with innovations like plastic construction, sleepy eyes, and rooted hair. Wanting to make more realistic dolls that would captivate children's imaginations, Alexander scoured libraries for images of costumes from around the world and insisted on getting the details right, down to the lace on the petticoats. "I didn't want to make just ordinary dolls with unmeaning, empty smiles on their painted lips and a squeaky way of saying 'mama' after you pinched,"she said. "I wanted to do dolls with souls. You have no idea how I labored over noses and mouths so that they would look real and individual."

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This early publicity shot (circa 1920s) is one of the first to identify Beatrice Alexander as "Madame Alexander." The first recorded mention of her as Madame Alexander occurred in the 1928 edition of Playthings magazine, but some people remember her taking on the title as early as 1925, at the suggestion of an advertising executive who thought she looked French.
Institution: William Alexander Birnbaum
Date of Birth
Birthplace

Brooklyn, NY
United States

Date of Death
Occupations
Entrepreneur

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Beatrice Alexander." (Viewed on September 15, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/alexander-beatrice>.

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