Lilli and Her Sisters
Bild Lilli came before Barbie, and she asked why she didn't have her own page! So here you are!
Lilli is called "Bild Lilli" after the "Bild-Zeitung" (which is translated literally as "picture newspaper") in which a cartoon appeared regularly featuring blond bombshell Lilli. The cartoon was created by Reinhard Beüthien for the tabloid newspaper in Hamburg. He started drawing the cartoon in 1952, and it ran daily until 1961.
In 1953, the Bild-Zeitung decided to market a Lilli doll, and they contracted with the O&M Hausser company to produce her. She was produced in the tall 11 and 1/2" model and in the smaller 7 and 1/2" one, until 1964, when Mattel bought the rights to her. Lilli was marketed as a "naughty" sexpot novelty item for adult men, but she soon became popular with children as a fashion doll to dress up. She came in a cylindrical clear plastic tube and original outfit, as well as a tiny copy of "Bild-Zeitung". A number of different outfits were produced for her. Many of the outfits came in different colors and variations!
Below is a close-up of my one-and-only Bild Lilli--a lovely 11 and 1/2" German Fräulein whose famous pouty look was the inspiration for Barbie!
Here she is in all her glory... the "Home Suit" is a lovely lounging set that came in several different colors. I have seen photos of it in peach and also lavender.
Lilli came traditionally as a blonde, after the cartoon, but a few brunettes and redheads were also produced. (Or were the redheads oxidized brunettes?)
Below is a beautiful Lilli that came with a music box stand! She is wearing the pink version of the #1124 Ball Gown.
Channeling Garbo...or does she look more like Marlene Dietrich?
Some gorgeous OOAK Lilli wannabes have been created by talented people like Louise of "jeezlouise". Take a look at her gorgeous gaggle of Fashion Queens who are transformed into Lilli's --complete with Lilies in their (plastic) hair!
Below is another of Louise's creations, a lovely pouty girl who is a real heart stealer!
If you can't get a Lilli (and it takes a lot of saving up!), these stunning "Lilli Lalka's" hand-made by Julian Kalinowsi and Liz in the UK are the next best thing. In fact he did their faces and hair in so many wonderful variations, they compete with Lilli herself in the beauty contest!
This lovely Lalka is wearing the UK repro of Lilli's famous gown. And does she not wear it well?
Some Lalka's were made to look nearly exactly like Lilli's, and others were painted in OOAK style--this one is a "One-Off"(OOAK) Lalka. Note the brows, blue eyes glancing to her left, and full lips! She also has a variation chignon hairstyle.
Yes, yes, it's your gown...but doesn't it look wunderbar on me? (Lilli looks displeased!)
Here is a very beautiful Brunette Lalka from U.K., made by Julian to look specifically like Bild Lilli (not a "one-off" doll). She wears the traditional dirndl. (Photo from pinterest)
Another fabulous "One-Off" Lalka, my gal with very pale skin and platinum hair, in the "Beach Outfit"--I hope she remembered her sunscreen!
This Lalka has a porcelain-like face...
Many knock-offs of Lilli were produced, many of them in Hong Kong--thus they are often called "Hong Kong Lilli".
Below is a nice example of a Hong Kong Lilli, complete with her little curl and painted-on shoes! These dolls were often made of a flimsier plastic than Lilli (who is not all that sturdy herself! It's actually a wonder any of them have survived as well as they have.) (photo from pinterest)
How about another very cool clone, the Marx "Miss Seventeen", who came in a 15" and an 18" size!
(photo from pinterest)
And now for something entirely different... Ever seen a Javanese Lilli? This was formerly owned by me--a very unusual doll made of a clay-like composition material. Hard to find info on these, but to my best knowledge, they were sold in Indonesia around the 60s, wearing the styles of the day. This girl wears the pretty "kebaya" over a traditional wrap skirt.
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