Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gene dolls reflect their glamorous Hollywood origins


When I first began collecting historical dolls and focused on dolls representing people from ancient history, I successfully bid on a Gene doll dressed as the "Daughter of the Nile". She remains one of my favorites but I really didn't know that much about the history behind this particular Gene incarnation until I read a vendor's description of another "Daughter of the Nile" offered for sale recently on Ebay:

Gene was the conception of fashion illustrator Mel Odom and produced by The Ashton-Drake Galleries.

Gene is 15-1/2" of poseable, collector-quality vinyl with a finish that mimics fine porcelain; hand painted features, hand-applied lashes, period coiffure rooted and styled by hand; wardrobe crafted of quality fabrics like those worn by real Hollywood stars of the era; Impeccable tailoring details - hand-sewn fastenings, fully lined dresses, seamed hose; fabulous accessories designed precisely to scale.

"Daughter of the Nile" is dressed in an exotic Egyptian gown, reminiscent of the alluring costumes creased for the historical epic movies so popular in their time, circa 1952.

The gown is hand-beaded with faux gold, turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli on a sheath dress of silk crepe, lined in pale silk. Finely pleated, the sheer turquoise chiffon robe ripples as fluidly as the Nile.

Includes gold metallic sandals, dangle earrings, and hand-beaded bracelets, headdress and arm bands.

Her raven hair spills in soft waves past her sholders. Two braids woven with gold cords cast an exotic allure - designed by renowned fashion artist Timothy Alberts.

The story of Gene is that of Hollywood star Katie Marshall, who, after she was discovered by a famous Hollywood producer, adopted her beloved grandfather's name, Gene - because he had always encouraged her to follow her dream to stardom.

In a bid to lure back audiences from television, Monolithic Studios poured millions of dollars and an all-star cast of thousands into a stupendous historical epic called, "The Daughter of the Nile". They cast Marshall as the female lead, the number one box office draw, and it became one of Monolithic's greatest successes."

I did a little more research and found a "Gene chronology" supposedly compiled by doll producer Mel Odom. Gene was "born" April 17, 1923. Her "career", as represented in her various costumes, spans from 1941 - 1962. The "Daughter of the Nile" doll is supposed to represent her costume from a film produced in 1952 in which she plays "a priestess torn between the Pharaoh’s will and her destiny of love." The doll, designed by Timothy Alberts, was released in 1998. It was officially retired 2/12/2000.

I bought another Gene doll dressed in a 194os-era army-style uniform at a local doll show. I looked through the list of Gene dolls on the chronology website and I think it must be the Gene USO doll representing the year 1944. I found this picture on an Ebay auction that looks like my doll except I don't have the USO arm band. The doll was not in a box when I purchased it so it could have been mislaid. It was designed by Doug James and released in 1999. I display her with my Effanbee General Douglas MacArthur.

I also bought a Gene as the Blue Goddess [right] in an Ebay auction. I especially liked it because it reminded me of the goddesses of Greek mythology. It was designed by Tim Kennedy in 1996 and represented Gene in one of her first color films, about the stolen Blue Goddess diamond. Audiences knew the real Blue Goddess was Gene. This doll was retired in June 1999.

Odom also produced a male companion for Gene named Trent. I bought a Trent styled in a costume of historical India from the 20th century Fox film "The Rains Came". I think he looks very dashing in his brocade frock coat and his rakish satin turban!

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