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Home Articles News & Notes News&Notes Odom Retires Gene
Odom Retires Gene
Written by Carie Ferg   
Thursday, 12 November 2009 16:06
mel-odomMel Odom has announced that as of June 2010 his iconic “Gene Marshall” doll will be officially retired. “Gene and I are pulling a Garbo, and retiring,” Odom wrote in a letter he sent to Gene fans explaining his decision. “I’ve been given much because of Gene; acclaim, financial security and the best bunch of friends and collectors anyone could ever expect from their profession. … I just think it’s always better going out a winner, while you are on top,” he penned.

Odom, age 59, would like to spend his future cultivating a career as a painter and perhaps art teacher, but not before Gene is given a proper farewell. A special Gene will be released in early 2010, and she will be sent out in style at her final, 15th-annual convention to be held June 3-5, 2010, in Philadelphia. Odom wrote in his letter, “For this special party, we’re creating one more collection, ‘The Stardust Collection,’ a curtain call of sorts for all our characters.”

After licensing Gene since 1995 to The Ashton-Drake Galleries, Odom moved the license to Integrity Toys in 2006. Percy Newsum, Integrity Toys president, says, “It has truly been a privilege to be able to work with someone as talented as Mel and to service such a dynamic and caring group of collectors. … Gene will always be an important part of our history.”

And Gene, who was Odom’s primary project for a score, will always be a crucial part of his past as well. He noted, “Gene is in my head and heart and nothing I can ever do will change that.”

Gene will remain part of the collective collector consciousness, as well, for many years to come.


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Ahh, the memories. Talent always rises to the top. Best of luck to you, Mel.
Barbara Campbell , January 24, 2010
Thank you so much for Gene. Your vision of her style gave me a refreshing look at my own self and sense of style or actually the lack there of and it made a difference. One of my favorite dolls came from the story of my owm mom. Born in 1921, she felt she was at her peak in the early 1940's. A stunning brunette with hazel eyes and olive skin, she always spoke of a suit she wore and said it always made her feel like a million bucks. It was a two piece dress in kelly green, a pencil skirt and kick pleat in the back, big lapeled jacket with a peplum and skinny belt, she wore a cherry pin on the lapel, which by the way is now extremely sought after and I wish she still had it. Of course she had a matching hat as well. Several years ago you came out with Simply Gene Brunette, and then there was that suit. Although it was not kelly green, it was still a dark green with a red floral corsage. I bought both and gave them to my mom and believe it or not, she said, unbelievable how close it was to her own. It was a great memory to share with my mom whom by the way will be 89 in January. Many thanks for giving us that to share. Wishing you all the best for your future endeavors.
Sharon Skondin , November 24, 2009
Mel ~

One of the HAPPIEST days in both my sister, Barbara Issak's, and my lives was the day we met you at the Rothman Center Doll Show in Hackensack, NJ, back in the Spring of 1995 (I believe!), right after the first ads for "Gene" hit "Dolls" magazine...even before she was available in the doll shops. You know the rest of this story....My sister & I have spent 15 FABULOUS years collecting your Sweetheart, and sharing YOUR dream!!!!

Mel, we LOVE you, and we wish you nothing but the BEST in your next endeavor!!!!!

DOLL-lightfully yours ~

Cheryl Handelman
Northern NJ; Co-VP of the Hudson Valley Doll Club (Newburgh, NY)
Cheryl Handelman , November 24, 2009
Dear Mel, I am so sorry to hear that Gene will be retired. From an artistic point of view , she is the best. I hope your art career is everything you want it to be. I enjoyed your art on Ruth Rendalls book covers,years before the creation of Gene. I have no doubt that you will be sucessful and happy. It is so much easier to retain artistic control when painting. Thank You Miriam Potter-Canada
mpotter , November 18, 2009
...! I purchased my first Gene @ Marshall Fields(now gone as well),in Chicago, in 1996. I was spellbound by her beauty and detailed costume. Since than, I've collected 10 more dolls and many of her boxed fashions,as well as stunning ooak fashions from very talented designers. I work in the fashion-retail industry, and Gene was my personal manniquin! I will truly miss "sharing the dream" with Gene, she is, in a VERY stressful world, magic, glamour, and comfort of a time long gone. Mel, thanks for giving us that!!
jackie , November 15, 2009
I have had the chance to meet you in person 3 times in Chicago. I have been a fan of your Gene dolls since I first saw her beautiful face in my Ashton Drake Catalog when she first premiered. I still have my Gene Premiere along with several of the Madra Lord & Violet Waters dolls. Thank you for bringing so much happiness to so many of our lives by Sharing your Wonderful Creations with us all! I hope you enjoy your future endeavors and enjoy your retirement. Much Love ~ Tracy
Tracy Topps , November 14, 2009 | url
Thanks Mel for the run. I've been with you from the beginning
and will be there to the end. You made me love the 16" Gene,
her beautiful outfits and all of her friends. From the beginning
I have all of the old outfits, dolls and graduated up to some
of the newer dolls. It's like saying good-bye to one of my oldest friend, but, knowing that she'll always be with you. The very best
and you'll always be in my heart & collection.
Love always,
Valerie Ottley from Palm Coast, Fl.
Valerie Ottley , November 14, 2009
If the computer screen were flat on the desk you'd see the tear blotches. You made my 15 seconds of fame with my first prize Gene at the Kentucky convention so special, thank you. There comes a time in our lives when we need to follow a dream, even if it goes in a different direction. We will miss you and Gene but I know she will be with you as you paint your way to another success. Best wishes. Kathryn Fillman, Des Moines, IA
Kathryn Fillman , November 14, 2009 | url
Such a beautiful doll. I hope you enjoy your retirement and we will all miss your artistry as a doll designer. Best of luck in all you do!smilies/smiley.gif
Tina , November 14, 2009
Mel, I can well relate to where you are coming from. I am the sculptress for the "Debbie Doll". I have 7 porcelain dolls on the market known as "Little Reb Ladies". God has been so good to me. I have spent much time lately going back to my "first love" of oil painting. Recently, I had the honor of painting Dr. Phil and Robin along with some other celebrities.(You can view the paintings at http://www.treasured reflections. I will never give up making the dolls and designing patterns; but, sometimes we all need a little diversity in our lives. I also plan to start some Oil Painting
classes and feel this has really revived my enthusiasm in the Art Field. Good luck on your new adventure. Gene has been the love of many little (and big) girls for a long time.
Love, Betty Burchfield, "Little Reb"
Betty Burchfield, "Little Reb" , November 14, 2009 | url
Im crying!!! Gene was my friends & by my side after I experienced a brutal attack on my life,I went 3 years without leaving my home,I saw a Gene doll in a catalog and searched for a basic doll store near,I bought her with 30.00 in quarters and a 20.00 bill and when I heard that Mel Odom was coming to NC to The DOll Market,I LEFT the security of my home for the 1st time in 3 years!!! So I could meet him and have my photo taken & buy more Gene dolls, since then,I have battled cancer and I am on S.S.I, it saddens that Gene is retiring but also Ive known for years that Mel Odom has other projects and has had interests in going further with his art talent,Mel & Gene will ALWAYS have a place in my HEART and my home,I have An American Countess Gene sitting in front of me here at my computer & by my night stand I have other Gene dolls with Barbie, Mel thankyou for Sharing the Dream of Gene with me & The WOrld she is a genuine gift and I will cherish for the rest of my life.Thankyou.
All my Love
Selena Esparza from Durham,NC
SELENA , November 14, 2009

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