"From a tiny town to the huge city came TRESSY, carrying a suitcasefull of dreams that all came true with her debut as MISS AMERICAN CHARACTER, the most beautiful girl in the land. The magical world of hi-fashion modeling, television, the stage, and gala social events welcomed her with open arms...." --- (excerpt from Tressy's fashion booklet")
"Tressy" was produced by the American Character Doll and Toy Corporation from approximately 1963 to 1967. This 11 1/2 inch doll was a direct competitor to Mattel's popular "Barbie". However, "Tressy" had a special feature that "Barbie" did not. Her hair could grow! You could lengthen or shorten a long strand of hair on the top of Tressy's head by turning a tiny "T" shaped key that you would insert into a circular slot in her back. The dolls were available with various shades of blond, brunette, and red hair.
"Tressy" came with an instruction book which showed you how to give her many exciting hairstyles. A seperate style book was published by "Dell" (you know, the company that makes those little books sold at the supermarket checkout). American Character also sold curlers, hair pins, setting lotion, temporary hair coloring and other accessories to help style Tressy's hair. Tressy's hairstyles were definitely a reflection of the early/mid 1960's. Click the link below to see photos of "Tressy" in hairstyles that were duplicated from her instruction book.
After trying to style her hair myself, I have to admit that it must have been VERY difficult for a child to do on her own. You really need the tiny accessories like the curlers and hair pins to set the hair properly. I'm not sure a young child would have the patience or the dexterity to duplicate the styles exactly as they appear.
Click the links below to see the full contents of Tressy's Hairstyle guides as well as photos of additional hair accessories that were sold seperately. There is also a link to the lyrics from "Tressy" television commercials which sung the praises of styling her hair.
Of course, what would Tressy do without a "high fashion" wardrobe to show off her glamourous hairstyles? The Tressy doll was sold wearing a simple red knit shift dress. American Character also made clothing for her that could be purchased seperately. The styles ranged from dressy, casual to career looks. This clothing was also featured on a set of "Tressy Paper Dolls". If you wanted to make you own clothes for Tressy, the Simplicity Company produced a pattern specifically for "Tressy". Since "Tressy" was the same size as "Barbie", she also could wear her fashions.
Click below to see the illustrations of Tressy's outfits from her fashion book. There is also a link to the "Tressy Paper Dolls" as well as a link to the description of Tressy's "glamourous lifestyle" which was printed in her fashion book, the lyrics to the television commercials that discussed her fashions, and a picture of the Simplicity pattern envelope.
American Character also produced play structures to support Tressy's lifestyle. She had a Penthouse Apartment (with a terrace) as well as a Beauty Salon. They were made of a cardboard like material similar to play house structures that were made for the competing "Barbie" and "Tammy" dolls during that time. Click the links below to see photos of these items from Tressy's fashion book as well as lyrics from the Penthouse Apartment television commercial.
American Character produced several additional dolls within the "Tressy" family. The first was "Pre-teen Tressy" which was a 14 inch young girl doll which had Tressy's growing hair feature. "Cricket" was Tressy's 9 inch little sister (similar to "Barbie's" little sister "Skipper"). "Cricket" was sold both with and without the growing hair feature. Tressy also had a best friend called "Mary Makeup" who did not have a growing hair feature, but instead light blond hair that could be colored using temporary hair dye and a face with a plastic coating to which make-up could be applied and easily removed. Click the links below to see more details on these other dolls as well as Tressy's later Fashion Book which also featured "Cricket" and "Mary Makeup".
American Character stopped making Tressy in 1967 when the company went out of business. They apparently were unable to keep up with the competition from "Barbie". In the late 1960's Barbie was re-designed with the "Mod" look, while Tressy sort of lagged behind with the more conservative early 1960's looks.
She continued to be produced by other countries throughout the 1970's and 1980's. She was very popular in Great Britain. Although Tressy's popularity never surpassed that of "Barbie" she is still holds an important place in the history of fashion dolls. Her unique grow hair feature was continued in the 18 and 15 inch "Crissy Family" line of dolls which was produced by Ideal in the 1970's. Ideal even produced a friend for Crissy who was coincidentally named "Tressy". Click here to see visit my "Crissy" page
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