Inspired by Beatrice Alexander Behrman, known as Madame Alexander, The Alexander Doll Company has been making beautiful, collectible dolls, baby dolls and play dolls since 1923. Madame Alexander believed that dolls should engage the imagination and contribute to a child's happiness and understanding of the world. Beautifully crafted, these fine quality dolls are favorites for children and doll collectors worldwide.
ABOUT MADAME ALEXANDER.
Beatrice Alexander Behrman, known as Madame Alexander, started the Madame Alexander Doll Company in 1923.
The company has created a series of "firsts" that have shaped the doll industry and has always been a pioneer of style and quality in this community.
Biography of Beatrice Behrman.
In 1895, Beatrice Alexander was born to immigrant parents who, like so many other Eastern Europeans, fled the pogroms of the late 19th century Russia to freedom in New York.
Beatrice's father Maurice founded America's first doll hospital, The Alexander Doll Hospital which was located on Grand Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side, a teeming mecca for immigrants.
Though she grew up in the slums within the heart of the city's melting pot, Beatrice was influenced by the wealthy carriage trade frequenting her father's shop and was determined to rise above her station as a working-class clerk. This proved to be a difficult challenge as World War I brought an American embargo against German goods and dolls, the mainstay of the Alexander family business, fell into this category. Determined to help provide for her family and to create a doll that didn't break like the German bisque dolls of the time, Beatrice and her sisters decided to make cloth Red Cross Nurse dolls in honor of the women who risked their lives on the front lines of the war.
The dolls were an instant success.
In 1923, just three years after the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote, Beatrice began her business at a time when women were still an unusual sight in the workplace.
Working out of her kitchen with only $1600 worth of operating capital, Beatrice adopted the title of 'Madame' and started a cottage industry business which subsequently moved to a studio in downtown Manhattan. There, Beatrice conceived the ideas for new dolls, helped to sew the dolls and their costumes, and developed shop accounts, determined not to let the male retailers and suppliers that she dealt with daily take advantage of her.
Though the business was doing well, in order for it to grow Beatrice knew she must obtain a loan. She paid a visit to a bank officer who advanced her the money but seemed skeptical of her ability to succeed, viewed her as a poor risk and told her so.
In turn, Beatrice made good on her vow to repay the loan before it became due, and she never borrowed from his bank again.
Over the years, despite the rationing and materials shortage of the Depression and World War II, Madame Alexander's company defied the odds not just to survive, but to thrive.
Under Madame Alexander's direction, The Alexander Doll Company introduced a series of 'firsts' that have shaped the doll industry: creating composition dolls with painted features and sleep eyes, using distinctive face molds, bringing feature baby dolls to market, creating dolls in honor of living people, issuing the first doll based on a licensed character, pioneering the use of hard plastic as a new medium, and introducing Cissy - the first full-figured haute couture doll.
In 1930, seeking to capitalize on her early success, Madame Alexander created an 'Alice in Wonderland' doll and after the outstanding popularity of these dolls, shrewdly reissued the doll in 1933 after the release of the Paramount film starring W.C. Fields, Charlotte Henry and Cary Grant. Again, capitalizing on the Depression era popularity of the cinema and Hollywood's Dream Factories, Madame Alexander release her Little Women dolls to coincide with the release of the Katherine Hepburn film in 1933.
In 1936, after reading and being captivated by Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind', she went to work, prophetically creating a 'Scarlett' doll that bore an uncanny resemblance to Vivien Leigh - two years before the actress was cast in the role! The casting of 'Scarlett' was a huge national story with some of Hollywood's biggest stars vying for the role. Seizing her opportunity, Madame Alexander sent the prototype of the Scarlett doll to the frustrated executives at MGM and three days later received a contract to design and manufacture the doll, even though Vivien Leigh had yet to audition.
The company survived the Depression so brilliantly that in 1936 Fortune Magazine featured Madame Alexander as one of three major doll manufacturers in America. In addition, her innovation, fine craftsmanship and creativity were honored with the Fashion Academy Gold Medal Award in 1951, and again for the next three years. In the late 1960's the company was honored when The Smithsonian Institute selected two of Madame Alexander's creations for inclusion in it's prestigious doll collection. Madame Alexander also received the first Doll Reader Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986 and the F.A. O. Schwarz Lifetime Achievement Award as the 'First Lady of Dolls'..
Beatrice Alexander Behrman, 'Madame' to millions, died on October 3, 1990 at the age of 95.
The Alexander Doll Company continues its tradition of elegance and innovation with a full line of fine quality Collectible dolls, baby dolls and play dolls.
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