Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra entertained audiences with the lyrics “Fairy tales can come true; they can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.” Even though Old Blue Eyes was singing about his on-screen love, Doris Day, he might as well have been thinking about Beverly Stoehr. The beloved doll artist has reached milestone after milestone in her 50-plus-year career, and her most recent accomplishment is the Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed by JP Media and DOLLS magazine.
Reality Surpasses Dreams
The essence of a storybook ending is especially relevant to Stoehr, who has an undeniable connection to dolls that are equally wholesome and innocent, sweet and elegant, make-believe and uncannily lifelike. In fact, she has had many of her creations unveiled at Disney doll events hosted at the magical theme parks. Stoehr’s life is one large tribute to remaining perennially optimistic, and her canon of dolls reflects that picture-book perfection.
“For me, receiving this award is a dream come true. I feel like Cinderella! Who would have thought that I would be in the doll world to the extent that I have been? When I was 7 years old, I never would have imagined. I couldn’t dream this,” Stoehr said.
When looking back upon her vast array of dolls, Stoehr is humbled by the different faces and personalities she has sculpted. She said, “I truly think my dolls have always continued to do well because I have kept in contact with my collectors and families about what they would like to see in my doll lines. I have always kept on top of what was happening in the industry by attending doll events and trade shows. In today’s world, prices are increasing everywhere, so a doll is very much an extra expense. I keep this in mind so that my prices remain affordable. This is important to me so that families can continue to buy my dolls and enjoy them.”
A Legacy Built on Kindness and Skill
The New York artist’s commitment to maintaining an ethical and above-board business is acknowledged throughout the doll realm. She proudly stands behind the creative and business angles of her Beverly Stoehr Originals moniker.
“I met Beverly about 30 years ago when we both sold at local shows in western New York. I was just beginning to show my work and knew very little about the business of dolls. Beverly was already an accomplished, well-known, and respected dollmaker,” said award-winning artist Elizabeth Cooper. “I owe much of my success to her unending encouragement and her openness to share knowledge of the industry. Beverly is a devoted wife and mother, who has followed her dreams and excelled as a sculptor and businesswoman. Her work speaks for itself, and she has been an indefatigable campaigner for both artists and the doll industry.”
Diane Drake, owner of Diane’s Doll Shoppe, has known Stoehr for more than 20 years. During that time, the shop proprietor has grown to respect the artist as a talented sculptor, a savvy businesswoman, and a warm and friendly individual. Drake said, “We not only have a good business relationship, but we also shared many dinners together at doll shows and trade shows. Artists like Beverly are the ‘bedrock’ of the doll world. She has trained/taught many artists, not only through hands-on connections, but also educated some without even knowing it. She has staying power — from her many limited-edition, 10-inch vinyls to her one-of-a-kind polymer clay babies, which were so popular in the 1990s, to her current BJDs. You name it — Beverly has made it. Above all, you cannot find a more helpful, congenial, and giving person than Beverly. Her very busy family schedule has never stopped her from reaching out to anyone whom she also felt needed her.”
When Stoehr was notified of her selection to receive the distinguished honor, she shared the news with her husband. His candid reaction tickled and delighted her. “To be honest, my husband, Roger, was so impressed,” she said. “He had no idea that it existed in the doll industry. He was impressed by what I meant to the industry. He was very impressed by it. To tell the truth, it takes a lot to impress Roger. And DOLLS magazine managed to do it! All of my family and friends were so happy to see how the industry has been so good to me.”
Pat Moulton, a fellow artist and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020, has been a colleague and friend of Stoehr’s for the past 23 years. “I met Beverly in 2000 at Toy Fair in New York. What stands out to me about Beverly is that she is friendly, down-to-earth, and always willing to help out another artist. I owe my time with the UFDC to Beverly, for she is the one who invited me to be a guest artist. Beverly has been such a huge part of the industry for so many years. She truly deserves this award. She always has something to offer her collectors. Beverly stays current but has her own unique style. I feel privileged to know her.”
Because Stoehr entered the doll world in the 1970s, her longevity into the 2020s is miraculous. During this time, she has sculpted for some of the industry’s leading names: Alexander Doll Company, Danbury Mint, Paradise Galleries, The Doll Maker, and Effanbee. The artist attributes her in-demand status to remaining unwaveringly true to her proven strengths and being flexible enough to adjust her dolls’ sizes, media, construction, and themes. She has never remained predictable or static. “For the next few months and into the upcoming year, I am working on a line of baby dolls in all different sizes and cast in silicone, and one of a kinds in polymer clay. Babies were, and are, my first loves in dolls, and I wanted to go back to where I started. It will be full circle! Along with the babies, I am also expanding my small BJD line in smaller dolls, 6 and 4 inches.”
Walleska MacLaren has been an avid doll collector for 35 years. She became familiar with Stoehr’s artistry through the dollmaker’s association with Marie Osmond Dolls. “I met Beverly at the Marie Osmond Doll convention in Utah in October 2006. It was a pleasure meeting her and I even got her autograph and photo. She was just a lovely, soft-spoken person. Many people are drawn to her creations because of her ability to capture the innate wonder of children, which makes them delightful, fun, and so collectible. You are instantly taken in by their beauty, and you appreciate the talent and dedication needed to create such gorgeous works of art.”
Throughout her many decades, Stoehr has mentored and taught such renowned artists as Marie Osmond, Lisa Hatch, Ping Lau, and Sherry Rawn, to name a mere quartet. But Stoehr believes her greatest lifetime achievement has been the fact her dolls appear alive and essential to her adult collectors and to their children and grandchildren. She prefers that her dolls “speak for themselves.”
“I think if my dolls could actually talk, they would say, ‘Be kind to others. As you grow, show how you are caring and understanding toward others. Bring out the goodness and kindness in all.’ Dolls bring out the goodness and kindness in their owners, and kindness and friendship can be built through dolls. That is what I have experienced in my life,” Stoehr said. “I am still in shock from this outstanding honor. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all who voted for me. I send blessings from my heart to yours!”
Beverly Stoehr Originals: beverlystoehroriginals.com