How Tressy was born

A Short History of the Tressy Doll

 In 1960, inventor/designer Jesse Dean's wife Diana told him she had an idea for an invention: a doll with hair that grows.   He loved it.   He did a search and found that there were already a few dolls patented that grew hair.  If he wanted to sell it, he had to come up with a twist. He spent the next year working on various concepts and by1961, he had it:  a more sophisticated mechanism that allowed the doll's hair to "grow" and be pulled back in.  He filed for a "patent improvement" and signed an agreement with the owner of the original patent, Vera Lilienstern, which, because of the nature of the improvements, transferred all the rights to him.

 In 1962, armed with a large-sized prototype he called "Suzi Snippet", he started making the rounds to every toy company in the US, including Ideal, Mattel and Hasbro.  He was flatly rejected by everyone.   But in May 1962, he fared better when he had a meeting with the last company on his list: American Character. And on June 10, 1962 he signed a contract with them.  The Tressy Doll was born.   Within a year, the doll was introduced to the public and created the biggest buzz at the 1963 Toy Fair.  Tressy was a bonified hit and American Character's biggest success ever. Unfortunately, three years later, American Character invested millions of dollars advertising a new toy, Chuckwagon, on the hit TV show Bonanza.   Because Bonanza aired at night, no kids watched the show.  Or saw the ads.    Within one season American Character declared bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings, American Character sold the Tressy dies (the molds and tools for manufacturing the doll) to Ideal, one of the companies that had rejected it in the first place.  Jesse later found that the dies contractually should have gone to him, but by that time, it was already too late.   Ideal marketed the doll under the name "Crissy" and it went on to sell for years to come.

 Among Jesse's other inventions is the very first adjustable TV table, another big seller.  He died in 2003 after a long illness.  Diana, a writer, is alive and well.

Written by Lisa Dean the daughter of Jesse and Diana Dean.

Suzy Snippet

This is the original prototype for the Tressy Doll. Her name is Suzy Snippet and she is 36 inches tall.


Any information contained on this page remains the sole property of Linda Clark and Lisa Dean and may not be used or copied in and part or form without their written permission.



This site is the copyright of Linda Clark © 2002

Any information or pictures contained on this page remains the sole property of Linda and Michael Clark and may not be used or copied in any part or form without their written permission.

Tressy® is a registered trademark of the American Character Doll co.