Beatrice Alexander elevated the craft of doll making in the United States and around the world. Crowned the “First Lady of Dolls” by FAO Schwarz, her dolls are highly valued by collectors and museums alike.
Born Bertha “Beatrice” Alexander Behrman in New York City in 1895 and died at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, in October 1990.
After her father died when she was just an infant, her mother, Hannah Pepper, married Maurice Alexander, owner of the first “doll hospital” in the United States.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Necessity is the Mother of Invention Alexander created her first doll during World War I as a way to earn extra income for her struggling family. The doll, a Red Cross Nurse, was made of cloth and featured three-dimensional facial features.
In 1923 she founded the Alexander Doll Company, creating much-needed jobs for her family and friends.
Elevating Her Craft
With the goal of creating dolls with “souls and individuality,” Alexander set a new standard with the introduction of dolls that had eyelashes, eyes that opened and closed, and life-like hair that could be styled.
As the popularity of Alexander’s dolls exploded, she began acquiring licenses to produce dolls based on real-life people and popular franchises, such as the Dionne quintuplets, Little Rascals, Nancy Drew, Little Women, Scarlett O’Hara, Alice in Wonderland, the British Royal Family, and more.
Fashioning a Legacy
Beatrice Alexander earned public recognition from the Fashion Academy, Doll Reader magazine, the New Rochelle Walk of Fame, FAO Schwarz, the United Nations, and the Institute – not to mention the countless children and adult doll collectors who treasured her creations.
Hall of Famer
Alexander – who became known as “Madame Alexander” – was posthumously inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2000.