BY LORETTA HOUBEN
1960 was a great year in more ways than one.
In 1960, I came into the world, and Chatty Cathy made her first appearance. I wonder how many of you remember Mattel’s talking doll. She said 11 different phrases such as “Will you play with me?” “Please comb my hair!” and “I love you!”
I received my first Chatty Cathy doll when I was four years old. I’ll never forget opening her box and seeing the top of her pretty blonde head. I pulled the string on her back, heard her speak and squealed with delight!
My mom had to put my doll on her Simpson Sears charge account as she was $11.95―an expensive toy in 1964! Mom took a few months to pay off the bill, as my younger sister also got a Chatty Baby doll at the same time.
The Dee & Cee Toy Company in Canada was taken over by Mattel in 1962, and produced the Chatty Cathy dolls until 1964. To this day they are sought after by doll collectors because of their superior facial colouring and peachy coloured vinyl limbs.
Dee & Cee contracted local housewives to sew the clothes for Chatty Cathy. A pale blue dress with a white eyelet pinafore can fetch up to $100 today on the eBay auction site, and the seams are unfinished! That may be hard to believe, but there’s no understanding the mind of a collector who is hunting to add to a valuable collection.
Chatty Cathy was first produced in Canada with short blonde hair, freckles, blue decal eyes and a blue dress with a white eyelet apron. She had a variety of clothes to choose from, including PJs, fancy party dresses, a red velvet hat and coat, and play outfits.
I became interested in Chatty Cathy in 2002 while browsing eBay. I discovered that Mattel had made a re-issue of Chatty Cathy in 1998, sold only in the JC Penny stores in the USA, so I bought one, and the rest is history.
Currently I belong to two Chatty Cathy groups online, and have made many friends. I’ve added to my collection and I own over 20 Chatty Cathy dolls, including Chatty Cathy Baby and Tiny Baby dolls, Baby Brother, Singing Chatty and Charmin Chatty, which were added by Mattel in later years.
Thanks to the internet I’ve had a chance to learn more about one of my favourite dolls. I also purchased Chatty Cathy’s vintage clothing patterns made by Simplicity and McCall’s. I’ve sewn quite a few dresses for her and have a sewing boutique online, which has added to the pleasure of meeting more friends, as every Chatty Cathy needs a new outfit from time to time!
Turning 50 together is an exciting adventure. I wanted to share some of the joy of doll collecting with you, especially such a cute doll as Chatty Cathy! I’d be interested in hearing if any of you have a Chatty Cathy from the 1960s.
First published in the September 2010 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.
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