A Paper Doll to Call My Own

When I was about 8 years old I discovered Betsy McCall.  McCall’s magazine dedicated an entire page in each monthly edition that showcased a Betsy McCall paper doll and a corresponding adventure with clothes to cut out and play with … like Betsy McCall goes to School. or Betsy McCall has a 4th of July party.

I could hardly wait each month until my mother’s magazine arrived.   I had to wait until she had read it first before cutting up the page I was waiting for. After just a couple of months I was hooked on paper dolls.

There is a plethora of information on Betsy McCall from 1951 through the 1990’s.  In the 50’s stories were simple and were based on events  supposedly typical school age girls could identify with.   As the years passed, the Betsy McCall page became more sophisticated with mazes and puzzles and more vocabulary and printed material.  Today you can Google Betsy and there is more information to entertain you.   The history, the story behind the illustrators, the various cousins and pets that followed Betsy throughout her “life”

In a few short years, I discovered other paper dolls.    Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Annette, The Lennon Sisters, Here’s the Bride.   I spent hours playing paper dolls on the living room floor.  Each set of paper dolls came in a cardboard folder which had pockets to store the clothes.  I would set up each folder around the living room, pretending each one was the house of the paper doll.  I had an entire neighborhood.   My paper dolls interacted with one another.  Natalie Wood was best friends with The Lennon Sisters!  Really!

Sorry I could not resist adding this great tune by The Mills Brothers.   Oh, and by the way, they performed this song on The Lawrence Welk Show which also launched the careers of The Lennon Sisters.   Love the harmonies.


About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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15 Responses to A Paper Doll to Call My Own

  1. I loved paper dolls also. Once in a while there would be paper dolls in the Sunday Comics. I especially liked the Brenda Starr dolls and clothes. I had one set of dancers with beautiful costumes. I also wish I still had them. I knew one girl who used to make her own dolls from catalogue pictures and clothes she drew and cut out. Very artistic. 🙂 —Susan


  2. Pingback: Betsy McCall and (Bald) Midge | Spirit Lights The Way

  3. Oh, yes I loved that special page in the McCall’s magazine…Betsy was “my” doll I thought…I had a friend down the road…and we would sit for hours designing our own paper doll outfits from used wallpaper sample books my Dad brought home for me…he was a wallpaper hanger as a career…What fun we had!…mkg


    • ReStore Community Center says:

      How lucky to have wallpaper scraps! I used to use those and make my own doll houses out of cardboard boxes… used the wallpaper for carpets and wall coverings of course! What fun we had.


  4. free penny press says:

    This brought back so many fun memories.. paper dolls, pattern shopping with my Mom, sewing up Barbie clothes (we never could afford store bought kind).. I love this post 🙂


  5. Paper dolls! Now that does take me back. I too used to play paper dolls, but used to cut out figures from all the patterns and call them different names and arrange them in families. They were handled til they were threadbare and falling apart, but so comforting and imagination- inspiring. I loved changing the clothes and making my own. One might have thought I had a fashion career looming, but I went into journalism. A fanciful world of another kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. marymtf says:

    I remember paper dolls that came with outfits. I’m not sure how I got them, but I don’t think they came in a magazine. They’re electronic these days (my granddaughters love them). Beautiful but a few clicks and you’re done. Takes the fun out of things. And no imagination needed.
    I listened to that song, it took me back. Loved it then and love it still but I have got to say that the lyrics are most politically incorrect. Wouldn’t have made it past today’s censors. 🙂


  7. My sister and I had plenty of dolls, but we loved playing with paper dolls. I was in love with paper and scissors, so cutting them out made them even more special. I like that you had houses and neighborhoods.


  8. Judy says:

    I never had Betsy McCall, but I vividly remember playing with Patricia Crowley, actress, paper dolls. Simpler times.


  9. afterthekidsleave says:

    Our Nana used to carefully glue the Betsy page to stiff cardboard, then cut out each piece for me…so they’d last longer. 🙂 I loved Betsy McCall!


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