Convention may be months away but our event artists and manufacturers are already hard at work. Each month UFDC is pleased to introduce you to the artists and companies whose work will be showcased at the meal events planned for Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States of America.
“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” -President John F. Kennedy
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, located on 17 acres that overlook the Potomac River in Washington, DC, opened in 1971. The Kennedy Center is a living memorial and tribute to JFK and his legacy as an advocate for the performing arts. The Center presents more than 2,000 performances each year. The Kennedy Center is the only U.S. institution that presents a free performance 365 days a year.
The Center made its public debut on September 8, 1971, with a gala opening performance featuring the world premiere of a Requiem mass honoring President Kennedy, a work commissioned from the legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and featuring the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Since then ballet has been an important part of the Center’s programming. The Center has been described as “a gigantic marble temple to music, dance, and drama on the Potomac’s edge”. In 2006, the Kennedy Center created Protégés, a ballet festival highlighting rising stars from the world’s greatest ballet training academies.
Madame Alexander Turns 90!
The year was 1923, Madame Beatrice Alexander started her doll company at a time when very few women worked outside the home, let alone had their own company. Her belief that dolls should engage the imagination and contribute to a child’s happiness and understanding of the world led her to develop a unique company. Great works of literature, the arts and far away cultures could transport children to new places and experiences. Her impeccably designed dolls came to mirror the changing lifestyles, tastes and dreams of the time. Now, 90 years later, we believe she would be very pleased with her legacy.
The dolls that are on view at this year’s UFDC Convention continue to impart Madame’s maxim, “Love is in the Details”. To commemorate the 90th Anniversary you will see a representation of a special collection inspired by some of Madame’s creations through the ages, including a 21” CissyTM, based on a photograph of Madame herself. The hand-beaded dress is indicative of the attention to detail that the company is still known for. There is also a WendyTM complete with a Tony Sarg inspired marionette theatre. But, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You will see for yourself!
And, if one anniversary wasn’t enough to celebrate, The Alexander Doll CompanyTM is commemorating the 75th Anniversary of two epic movies, The Wizard of OzTM and Gone with the WindTM. Highlights include The Wicked Witch of the West TM surrounded by her Winged Monkeys and Glinda the Good WitchTM, with the Lullaby League. Our 21” TMScarlett O’HaraTM is resplendent in her white ruffled prayer dress.
Not to be forgotten are all the wonderful dolls representing nations, pop culture and special occasions. We are ready for the next 90 years!
For those of you who are not as familiar with our history (or may have forgotten), here is a quick timeline and some notable facts:
• 1920’s – 28 years old Beatrice Alexander begins The Alexander Doll Company TM on her kitchen table. FAO Schwarz places an order for dolls.
• 1930’s – Despite the stock market crash and Depression, The Alexander Doll Company continues to prosper. Madame begins licensing and obtains trademark for the Dionne Quintuplets, Alice in Wonderland, Gone with the WindTM, The Wizard of OzTM and Little Women. She also launches The Baby Collection.
• 1940’s – Though WWII means rationing, Madame Alexander dolls continue to be impeccable. The company introduces one of the first walking dolls, Jeannie Walker. First company to use plastic for doll making, allowing for highly defined facial features.
• 1950’s –Madame Alexander wins the Fashion Academy Gold Medal award four years in a row. Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen and in celebration and Alexander Doll creates the Coronation Collection of 36 dolls to be displayed in a Brooklyn department store to simulate the ceremony. There was no transatlantic TV coverage yet! The Wendy face is born becoming the icon of the company’s 8” dolls.
CissyTM, a 21” full bodied doll epitomizes the American debutante with fashions right off the runways as well as scaled-down version, CissetteTM. LissyTM, 11 1⁄2” – 12” doll with jointed elbows and knees is introduced. EliseTM, 16 1⁄2 “-17” with jointed ankles and knees is added to the collection.
• 1960’s – Margaret Winson starts the Madame Alexander Fan Club, now Doll Club. Jacqueline and Caroline Kennedy dolls, based on the First family, were introduced. Madame is honored at the United Nations at a ceremony featuring her complete line of International Dolls. The Smithsonian selects the Madame Alexander Scarlett O’Hara TM doll for its permanent collection
• 1970’s – The First Ladies Collection was created to honor the women who shaped America. Six dolls were displayed in the Smithsonian. The Walt Disney Company expands its relationship with Alexander Doll as dolls for Alice in Wonderland and Snow White are created.
• 1980’s – Madame Beatrice Alexander retires in her 90’s with numerous awards including the first Lifetime Achievement Award from Doll Reader Magazine. FAO Schwarz names her “First Lady of Dolls”.
• 1990’s – Alexander Doll’s celebrate 75th Anniversary with a new limited edition and commemorative dolls. Madame Alexander dies at age 95.
• 2000’s – Alexander Fairchild Ford, a 16” fashion doll is introduced. In 2003, an Alex doll with 18 points of articulation was developed. Licensed properties are expanded with EloiseTM, OliviaTM and more. A Wooden Wendy with 9 points of articulation is another company first. Wendy celebrates her 50th birthday.
• Today – The Alexander Doll CompanyTM designs, manufactures and sells collectible, play and baby dolls worldwide. “Love is still in the Details”.
The Alexander event at this year’s convention honors the Kennedy Centre and its contributions to the world of ballet. Madame Alexander’s ballerinas are surely some of their most cherished dolls and attendees to this event will go home with one of them.