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Beatrice A. Behrman; Doll Designer

October 06, 1990|From Times Staff and Wire Services

Beatrice Alexander Behrman, known as Madame Alexander for the collector's dolls she created for little girls and museums around the world, has died in Palm Beach, Fla. She was 95.

Mrs. Behrman died Wednesday of natural causes at her home.

She founded the Alexander Doll Co. in New York City's Harlem in 1923 and sold it in 1988, remaining a consultant until her death.

The daughter of a Russian immigrant toy shop proprietor, Mrs. Behrman first designed and made "Red Cross Nurse" rag dolls for her father during World War I. After the war cut off shipments of European dolls to the United States, she started her own doll company.

Her Madame Alexander dolls began as rag dolls with hand-painted features. Adding such lifelike details as eyelashes and rooted hair over the years, she moved to plastics after World War II.

In the early 1950s, Mrs. Behrman won the Fashion Academy Award for her doll clothing designs, and was commissioned by the British government to design dolls representing Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret.

The company has produced more than 5,000 different dolls based on characters from historic events, literature, music, art and movies.

"I made dolls for children to play with and learn from of life and art," she said.

Each hand-made doll requires three weeks' work. New ones cost from $40 to $500, while older collector's models range as high as $5,000.

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