Plastic Ginger doll wearing Mickey Mouse Club hat, blue Western-style outfit with white trim, including star badge and toy pistol, and brown cowgirl boots.
Cosmopolitan’s 8-inch toddler doll Ginger was produced in response to the popularity of Vogue’s Ginny. This hard plastic Ginger is dressed in a tagged Official Talent Roundup outfit from the Ginger Visits the Mickey Mouse Club series with marked stand, circa 1955. The mouse ears are not original to this outfit. Ginger’s Mickey Mouse mask and white cowboy hat are missing.
Close-up of Ginger doll without the hat.
Closeup of six-pointed star badge that reads "Deputy Mouseketeer"

By Karen B. Kurtz
Photos by Mark A. Kurtz

Nearly every American doll company around in the 1950s tried to capitalize on the stellar success of Ginny, Vogue’s charming 8-inch toddler doll. Ginny reigned as queen, but Cosmopolitan promoted 8-inch Ginger as “the darling of the doll world” because she was also made from high-quality plastic and wonderfully dressed. Today, Ginger has finally come into her own among collectors after taking a back seat to Ginny for many years.

Plastic doll of a child with blond braids wearing a Western-style outfit with green wide-brimmed hat, fringed dress, toy gun, and cowgirl boots.
Close-up of the wrist tag reading "A Vogue Doll"
Ginny in a tagged Rodeo Girl Outfit from the Frolicking Fables series with a marked Vogue wrist tag, 8 inches, Vogue Doll Company, 1952. Head and body are marked “Vogue”; tagged clothing.

Cosmopolitan Doll and Toy Company, a division of Kathryn Kay, Inc., in New York, produced many hard plastic and vinyl dolls in the 1950s, but they are best known for Ginger. Kay, a former sales representative of Vogue Doll Company, used the same plastics manufacturer, Commonwealth Plastics Corporation, to manufacture Ginger. In an early advertisement that launched Ginger, Kay said, “Our success in building sales in the miniature doll field is history in the industry. By living up to our slogan ‘for the Tops in Toys designed and priced exclusively for the retail trade’ we have protected not only price and profit but also selected the channels of distribution.”

Collectors find Ginger desirable because she reflects her era. Other companies also joined in to share in Ginger’s popularity. Simon and Schuster printed the Little Golden Activity Book Ginger Paper Doll (story by Kathleen N. Daly, pictures by Adriana Mazza Saviozzi, 1957), while the Doll-of-the-Month Club kept subscribers up to date with new, smart fashions.

Open box contains a blond plastic doll wearing a pink dress with a straw hat at her feet. Compartments on either side of the doll and hat contain four additional outfits and accessories.
Ginger Gift Set No. 1701 contains a hard plastic Ginger, three dresses, pajamas, slippers, robe, plastic raincoat with hood, galoshes, and accessories. Exterior of box shows age-appropriate wear; inside the items are excellent.

Wardrobe and Accessories

Cosmopolitan’s strategies helped to assure Ginger’s enduring survival. Ginger came either undressed or fully dressed in complete outfits. The company also made dozens of outfits and accessories, ranging from trunks, luggage, and a cardboard dollhouse with lawn furniture, to Zip, Ginger’s pet monkey, with six different outfits of his own. Tagged clothing was marked “Fashions for Ginger / Cosmopolitan Doll and Toy Company / Jackson Heights, NY.” Thousands of Ginger dolls, outfits, and accessories moved into eager children’s hands.

It is still relatively easy for treasure seekers to upcycle a Ginger found in good condition into a doll in excellent condition. Collectors often substitute a better wardrobe for Ginger from damaged or missing pieces. Only a small change may be necessary, like exchanging an unmarked dress for a tagged one. Collectors can amass a good collection of Ginger items because they take up little space.

Empty "Fashions for Ginger" box behind a doll dress that's purple with white trim and black ribbon at the waist, purple bloomers, and black shoes.
This is an example of a 1950s boxed Ginger outfit that was sold separately.


Cosmopolitan adopted Vogue’s strategy of selling dolls at a reasonable price and then made sizable profits on Ginger’s extensive wardrobe. Back in the day, a Ginger doll cost about $3. Boxed outfits ranged from $1 to $4 each.

Early painted-lash Ginger dolls had jointed arms, legs, and head. They were unmarked. Some were head-turning walkers with straight legs or bent knees. They wore glued-on wigs that were generally styled in pigtails or a flip. Because they’re unmarked, Gingers are hard to identify at first glance. Subtle differences exist between Ginger, Ginny, and other 1950s look-alike dolls. Author Judith Izen reports the only way to reliably identify Ginger is through careful study. Brochures inserted into original boxes and advertisements aid in identification.

Authors Polly and Pam Judd provided detailed descriptions of Ginger and the look-alike dolls in two books, Glamour Dolls of the 1950s and 1960s and Hard Plastic Dolls II. “A distinctive feature of Ginger is an unusual, molded arm hook with a straight edge where it is strung to the body,” the Judds wrote. “Other characteristics include a mold seam through the middle ear making the center part of the ear higher than the top and the lobe. The doll will have a dimple on her chin, dimples on her hands, and dimples above her toes.”

Plastic doll of a long-haired brunette girl wearing a black-and white checked dress and red shoes. A pink straw hat and doll box with "Ginger" logo are to the side.
Clothing tag reads "Fashions for 'Ginger' Cosmopolitan Doll & Toy Co., Jackson Heights, N.Y."
All-original hard plastic Ginger in tagged School Dress with box and marked stand, produced from 1954 onward.
Closeup of Ginger doll with long brunette hair and blue eyes.

Most Ginger dolls have small blue eyes, but some have green or brown eyes. Early Gingers with black or brown skin tones are rare. Cosmopolitan later manufactured Ginger dolls with hard plastic bodies and vinyl heads with large eyes and abundantly rooted hair. The vinyl-headed dolls were marked “Ginger” on the head. They have molded eyelashes and may have bent knees and elbows. A vinyl-headed doll is usually less expensive than an earlier doll.

Four more dolls in Ginger’s family were popular: the rare 8-inch Ginger with the Cha-Cha Heel; 8-inch Little Miss Ginger with high heels; slim teenager Miss Ginger; and Baby Ginger. Ginger with the Cha-Cha Heel was marked “Ginger” on the bottoms of her feet and shoes. A walking doll, she was introduced in 1957 and later restyled with medium heels. Little Miss Ginger was marked “Ginger” on her head. Outfits for Miss Ginger, a 10.5-inch slim teenager, came with silk-like stockings, high-heeled shoes, and jewelry. Baby Ginger was an 8-inch vinyl doll with bent legs.

Spread showing the front and back covers of a Ginger doll brochure with the tagline "The Darling of the Doll World"
Two-page spread from a Ginger brochure showing black-and-white photos of two 8-inch walking Ginger dolls.
Two-page spread shows black-and-white photos of Ginger dolls in Disney Frontierland and Adventureland themed outfits.
Ginger brochures identify rare outfits, boxed separates, wigs, trunk sets, and accessories.

Matching outfits for Ginger and Miss Ginger were often purchased. Today, collectors consider an identically dressed pair of dolls from the Ginger family a special find.

Over the years, Cosmopolitan made several changes in body style to keep up with innovations in technology. The company also sold basic undressed Gingers to other companies. Terri Lee, for example, dressed the unmarked Ginger dolls in Girl Scout and Brownie uniforms from 1956 to 1958. Outfits were marked “Terri Lee” and the original boxes were labeled “Terri Lee Sales Corporation.”

Plastic doll of a child in a Girl Scout uniform.
All-original Cosmopolitan Ginger Girl Scout in outfit No. 11-955, dressed by Terri Lee Sales Corporation, produced from 1954 to 1958. Box marked; outfit tagged.
Closeup of the doll's Girl Scout hat with GS logo
Close-up of side of the Girl Scout Doll's box, showing price of $2.98 and text "Manufactured by Terri Lee Sales Corp. Apple Valley, Calif."

As with any doll, Ginger’s condition is everything. If you find a hard plastic Ginger in good condition (uncut wig, no pen marks or scratches, original clothing, factory-made shoes), hold on to her. As collectors continue to seek out the cute, small dolls of the 1950s and 1960s, values for Ginger and her look-alike cousins may grow.

Ginger Visits Disney

All of Ginger’s Disney costumes are rare and hard to find. Additionally, Cosmopolitan promoted Ginger as the only doll in the Mickey Mouse Club. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club was a revolutionary TV series — a fusion of variety, information, and entertainment that engaged both children and families. Ginger’s Mickey Mouse Club costumes need a vinyl Mickey Mouse mask in order to be complete, but the small masks often cracked over time or were lost. It is difficult to find Ginger dressed in a complete Mickey Mouse costume.

Ginger Visits Adventureland

  • Cha-Cha-Cha Senorita
  • Safari Girl
  • Oriental Princess

Ginger Visits Frontierland

  • Indian Princess
  • Frontier Girl
  • Pioneer Girl
Plastic doll wearing a Disney Blue Fairy outfit.
All-original vinyl Ginger Blue Fairy from the Ginger Visits Fantasyland series, 1955.

Ginger Visits Fantasyland

  • Blue Fairy
  • Cinderella
  • Dream Princess

Ginger Visits Tomorrowland

  • Rocket Pilot
  • Sun Princess
  • Space Girl
Mint-in-the-box Official Mickey Mouse Club outfit from Ginger Visits the Mickey Mouse Club series.

Ginger Visits the Mickey Mouse Club

  • Official Mickey Mouse Club
  • Official Talent Roundup
  • Mousekarade

Competing Plastic Toddlers

As plastic gained popularity in the 1950s, “Vogue gained the upper hand due to an early entry and mid-market, affordable price,” wrote researcher and author Carol Stover in the February 2003 issue of Doll World. “As with most businesses, one company’s success spawns a lot of imitators, and this was certainly the case with Vogue’s Ginny doll.”

Plastic doll of a girl with long brunette hair, wide-brimmed hat, dress, and pink shoes with matching tote.
Close-up of Nancy Ann Storybook Muffie doll.
Nancy Ann Storybook Muffie with painted lashes, 8 inches, 1953. Notice how the painting differs between Ginger and Muffie dolls. Original Muffie dress, original wig, original panty, and Ginger center-snap shoes, all excellent condition.

In 1953, Nancy Ann Storybook introduced Muffie, while Madame Alexander advertised Alexander-kins and Wendy Ann. These 8-inch toddlers are easy to identify because they are well-marked.

A plastic doll from the 1950s, still in the original box, wearing a dress and hair ribbon with a wrist tag reading "French Doll"
Never-removed-from-the-box Virga Lucy French Doll New York, 8 inches, 1950s. Box marked, hang tag marked, pristine condition.
Plastic doll with short blond hair in a dress with white bodice and plaid skirt.
All-original Virga Elsa Schiaparelli Go-Go, 8 inches, 1956. Manufactured from Cosmopolitan Ginger molds and named after a famous Italian designer of the time. Crisp costume, mint condition.

“From that point on,” Stover said, “the gates of the doll world were flooded with unmarked toddlers.” In addition to Cosmopolitan’s Ginger, families eagerly bought Virga’s Playmate Lucy, Toni, Schiaparelli, Twinkle Ballerina with molded pointed feet, and Lollipop with colored wig; Ontario Plastics’ Paula Sue; Fortune’s Pam, Ninette, Pamette, and Jeanette; Active Doll Company’s Mindy; and Midwestern Manufacturing’s Mary Jean.

A brown-skinned doll wearing a Hawaiian outfit, including "grass" skirt and lei.
Close-up of a Hawaiian doll.
An unmarked Hawaiian doll’s distinctive shoe mold identifies her as a Beehler Arts doll. Hawaii obtained statehood in 1959, when 8-inch toddlers were popular. Any 1950s black or brown toddler doll is hard to find today because few were made.

Dressed Ginger dolls were also sold as advertising products or regional souvenirs by some companies. Cosmopolitan sold some large-eyed walking Ginger dolls to Fortune Doll Company, who dressed and resold them. Three unmarked Ginger-like toddlers included Randi, Vicki, and Gigi. Admiration Doll Company produced inexpensive, lightweight hard plastic dolls in Hong Kong, but dolls manufactured from inferior plastic have not held up over time.

Plastic doll in pink dress with blue trim and pink straw hat standing next to the original box and the ad depicting the doll.
Mint-in-the-box Fab Advertising Picture Perfect Doll in untagged dress as depicted in original advertising brochure, 8 inches, 1957. Box is marked Colgate-Palmolive Company, New Jersey, on the return address.
Plastic doll with brunette hair in an updo, wearing a red dress with white lace at the neck and white shoes.
All-original Elite Creations Vicki, 8 inches, 1950s. Rooted wig in updo, sleep eyes with molded lashes, separate fingers, neck marked “VICKI.” All in excellent condition.

Karen B. Kurtz writes about dolls, history, and antiques. Find out more at and