In the early 1960s, the American Character Doll Company produced a series of Whimsie dolls, including:
- Annie the Astronut
- Fanny the Flapper
- Hilda the Hillbilly
- Lena the Cleaner (baseball)
- Samson the Strongman
- Simon the Degree
- Wheeler the Dealer (casino dealer)
- Zero the Hero
Hardly politically correct for our times, the stereotyped dolls do provide a look at the history of their time.
One other doll, Hedda Get Bedda, is especially helpful in that sense.
Made in 1961, this Whimsie doll could change her face, letting you know how she was feeling when you turned the knob on her head. She could go from having a sleeping face, to a sick face (perhaps having chicken pox or measles), to a happy face (once you made her better).
Does the fact that she also came with a hospital bed mean anything?
Just like some anti-vaccine folks like to think that the simple fact that they made a doll that had measles or chicken pox could possibly mean that they looked at them as mild diseases, you could just as easily say that including the hospital bed means ‘they’ understand they were life-threatening diseases that could put land you in the hospital.
We are talking about the pre-vaccine era after all, and in 1961, and when the Hedda Get Bedda doll came out, there were about 503,282 cases of measles in the United States and 432 measles deaths.
Like the Brady Bunch measles episode, the Hedda Get Bedda doll is sometimes used to push the myth that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that serious, helping folks justify their decisions to intentionally skip or delay vaccines and leaving their kids unprotected.
“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”
Walter Orenstein, MD
Sure, many people get measles and do get better without any complications. On their way to getting better though, even they have high, hard to control fever for 5 to 7 days, with coughing and extreme irritability.
But while most get better, we shouldn’t forget that some people don’t survive measles without complications. Natural immunity sometimes comes with a price, from vision problems and permanent hearing loss to brain damage.
And tragically, some people don’t get to survive measles.
For More Information and Measles Stories
- Parents PACK Personal Stories – Measles
- Measles: Rachel’s story
- Measles Stories
- A Family Struggles with Measles
- “106 Degrees”: A True Story
- Measles was no big deal — until my daughter caught it
- Measles A Dangerous Illness (Roald Dahl’s on his daughter’s death)
- Measles Not Worth the Risk
- My Baby Got Measles at Disneyland
- Measles and My Sister
- Schoolboy, 13, Dies as Measles Makes a Comeback
- “The Problem” by the Measles Initiative
- Sarah Clow’s Story
- Sarah Walton’s Story – SSPE
- Open Letter to Parents from Eileen M. Ouellette, M.D., J.D., F.A.A.P., Former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (2005-2006)
- Unprotected People Reports: Chickenpox