By Jim Fanning
When actress Betty White was honored as a Disney Legend in 2009, the beloved star recounted how, as a child of the Great Depression, she asked her parents for only one toy: a Mickey Mouse doll, and she keeps that cherished Mickey on her desk to this day. One of the most sought-after examples of Disneyana ever, the huggable plaything, was at first a giveaway for VIPs; the dolls were handmade by the doll’s designer Charlotte Clark and six seamstresses in a cottage nicknamed “The Doll House.”
National public demand began when a photograph of Walt with the doll was published in a movie magazine in 1930. Even with producing three to four hundred Mickey dolls a week, it was impossible for Charlotte and her toy makers to meet the demand, so Walt decided to have the doll mass-produced—as long as it had the quality and appeal of the Charlotte Clark original.
He wanted every child to have a Mickey doll, even those who could not afford the cost—so the imaginative impresario authorized the famed McCall Pattern Company to issue a Mickey/Minnie pattern priced at 35 cents. McCall Pattern #91 enabled parents who couldn’t afford a store-bought Mouse to make their own—and that meant the Mickey doll could be every child’s main squeeze.