Friday, October 4, 2019

Diahann Carroll and Julia Dolls

One of my Julia dolls side glances at an image of a doll that looks like her in the October 1969 issue of Ebony magazine.

I have had plans for years to write a blog post about Mattel's Julia dolls that represent the role Diahann Carrol played from 1968 to 1971 in the prime time sit-com, JuliaJulia was the first American TV show that featured an African American in a nonstereotypical leading role.  Time had not presented itself for me to write the post until now when I felt compelled to take the time to do so.

The Julia show first aired on September 17, 1968.  I was 13 and enjoyed watching the weekly shows from the first to the last, which aired on March 23, 1971.  Julia Baker was a widowed nurse and mother of a young son, whose name was Corey Baker (played by Marc Copage).  The back story was that her husband died serving in the Vietnam war.  Julia was a nurse in a doctor's office.


The lovely Ms. Carroll poses with the first two versions of the Julia doll, Talking Julia on the left and nurse Julia, a Twist 'n' Turn doll on the right.  The Julia doll, which is not a true portrait of Ms. Carroll, uses the original Christie head sculpt.  This photo is also from the October 1969 issue of Ebony magazine.

Because of the popularity of the show, Mattel debuted two Julia dolls in 1969.  One doll represents Ms. Carroll as Nurse Julia Baker.  The other, Talking Julia, is dressed in evening wear.  Ms. Carroll introduced the dolls in the October 1969 issue of Ebony magazine in the article, "Diahann Carroll Presents the Julia Dolls."  I purchased a copy of the magazine several years ago after my initial plan to write an in-depth article on the Julia dolls and extra boxed fashions.  As indicated above, that never happened.  Photos, scans, and/or snips from the 1969 Ebony article follow:


The above text is the actual article from the October 1969 issue of Ebony.  The rest of the article consists of images and captions as illustrated next.






Twist 'n' Turn Julia is held by little Miss Annette Johnson.
Seen with several Julia doll heads are Ms. Jean Berger (left) and Ms. Mellie Phillips (right).




This is a slightly larger photo of Ms. Phillips, now deceased, whom I believe was African American.


Several Julia dolls in nurse uniforms and other glamorous fashions are seen here with Ms. Charlotte Johnson (former fashion designer director at Mattel) and Ms. LaRue Diniakos.
Ms. Johnson and Carol Spencer (noted former Mattel designer) are seen in this photo with additional Julia dolls.  The magazine caption for these photos (minus the larger photo of Ms. Phillips) is captured below.

The Ebony article ends with this image of original Twist 'N' Turn Julia.

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Some of Julia's extra fashions are shown here, L-R Ruffles 'N Swirls, Leather-Weather, Burr-Furr, Pink Fantasy, and Candelight Capers.  These photos were scanned from the booklet that came with my Live-Action Christie.

Julia dolls from my collection are shown next.
Julia 1970-1971, second issue, wears a one-piece nurse uniform and hat.  The doll's hair color was originally dark brown/black; it has now oxidized to red.

Talking Julia was made from 1969-1971.  Her original brown hair has oxidized as well.  She is mute.  One of the phrases the doll spoke was, "Hi, my name is Julia!"

The 50th Anniversary Julia doll wears a replica of the original two-piece nurse uniform.  This doll was released in 2009.
The text on the back of the reproduction doll's box reads:  Julia debuted in September of 1968, changing television history forever!  The landmark sit-com introduced us to Julia Baker, an African American widow and her young son, Corey.  Living in Los Angeles, Julia worked as a nurse beside the grouchy, but still lovable, Dr. Morton Chegley.  Played magnificently by Diahann Carroll, Julia challenged stereotypes and changed perceptions.  Warm, spirited and determined, Julia became a star who is fondly remembered even today!  Revisit the memories with this wonderful reproduction of the original Julia doll from 1969!  This beautiful doll, based on the TV character played by Diahann Carroll, is housed in a striking package inspired by the original design.
One of the side panels of the 50th-anniversary doll's box describes the doll has "Bendable legs and Twist 'n' Turn waist, Diahann Carroll as Julia.  New TV Star!" An image of the doll dressed fashionably is below the text.


Born Carol Diahann Johnson on July 17, 1935, Ms. Carroll died today, October 4, 2019, at the age of 84.  She exuded grace, intelligence, and beauty and will be sorely missed.  I enjoyed her in Julia and in every other role she portrayed, but Claudine remains my all-time favorite Diahann Carroll role (and the soundtrack is great).  Her role in The Five Heart Beats was a small one, but I loved her in that, too.

Related Links
Julia Paper Dolls
Identifying Julia Dolls and Clothes
Julia Dolls
Claudine (full movie)


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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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8 comments:

  1. Debbie, thank you so much for taking the time to write this post about Julia's dolls. Even if the doll doesn't resemble Mrs Diahann Carroll, I am really happy that in the late 1960s MATTEL thought of making a doll out of great role model for back girls.
    Before reading about the oxydation of the hair, I was wondering how you managed to get red hair version of these dolls.

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    1. You're welcome, Arlette. I am happy that Mattel honored Ms. Carroll with a doll, too. She was a great role model and a stellar actress.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this post about Mattel's Julia dolls. I think I still have my childhood TNT Julia. While I never thought she looked like the actress Diahann Carroll, I liked the doll. I used to watch the tv show, too.

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    1. You're welcome, D7ana! It's great that you still have TNT Julia.

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  3. Thank you for this beautiful write up and history lesson! Ms Carroll was a CLASS ACT and I am so happy that Mattel made a doll of her... for in THAT time period that says A LOT.

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    1. You are welcome! I just read another more in-depth article written by a Dolls magazine author. It covers more information about her acting career.

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  4. Very nice post! Thank you Debbie!!

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