PRESENTED BY FRANCIE
Little Women dolls have been a part of the Madame Alexander line almost continuously since 1933 when a set of four sixteen inch cloth dolls were introduced. Based on Louisa May Alcott's characters in the girls' classic book "Little Women" from 1868, their introduction coincided with the release of the David Selznick-George Cukor movie based on the book. This classic film featured Joan Bennett as Amy, Jean Parker as Beth, Katharine Hepburn as Jo and Frances Dee as Meg. Marmee (the spelling used in the book) was played by Spring Byington, and Laurie, by Douglass Montgomery.
In this set (left to right: Amy, Beth, Jo, Meg), Jo has blonde hair, even though in the book she's described as a brunette. Some people switch Jo and Meg but the way this set is shown is correct. Please note that most of the dolls pictured are or were in my collection except the cloth dolls shown first, one picture from a book, another from an auction I "lost", and most of the Marme's from a display at the Madame Alexander Doll Club Convention in Los Angeles in 1989.
Eight-inch hard plastic Little Women were first shown in the 1956 catalog although sets were available in 1954 and 1955. These dolls were the straight leg walker dolls, and came in a variety of costumes. Here, from 1954 are Amy in white pin dots on pink, Beth in green taffeta (can be in polished cotton), Jo in red taffeta, Meg in red gingham checks with a green apron, and Marme in a lavender and white print with a black apron. In this set, Amy has white shoes, Beth magenta, and Meg, green. I'm not sure if the sets with colored shoes were store specials.
Jo's dress from 1955 has been seen in red, light blue and yellow cotton.
Meg of 1954-55 can be seen in red or pink gingham with a green apron, or the same outfit in a blue floral with blue apron shown above.
Bent knee walkers were used from 1956 into 1965 (some dolls in 1965 were bent knee non-walkers), and the costumes changed yearly in the late 50's. The above are from 1956. I got them all on eBay in 4 separate transactions. All the dresses are cotton except Beth's which is taffeta. I'm still looking for the right Marme. Missed out on this one (photo from auction).
This is a shelf of BKW Little Women: 1958 Amy, Beth, Jo, Meg and Marme, 1959 Beth, Amy, 1963-4 Beth in pink pique and 1961-2 Beth in blue check gingham.
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