Our member Dorothy presented a most interesting program about her Valentino dolls from 1923, pictured above. Her Aunt Thelma was a finalist in a 1923 Birmingham, AL, beauty contest, and was presented with the dolls pictured above by Valentino himself; they are likenesses of Valentino and his wife. The contestants won a trip to NYC. Here is Dorothy's story about these dolls:
In 1923 Valentino wanted to tour America for his next leading lady. He was not happy with the movie studio and took off that year with his wife Winifred Hudnut to do a dance performance and choose the most beautiful girl in each of the 88 cities. Each girl would go to NY for the finals in Nov. and be crowned the most beautiful. Aunt Thelma was chosen Miss Birmingham and danced with Rudy and was presented the dolls as trophies. Not all city winners got dolls. Some received loving cups. The dolls are about 30 in. long. The heads are made of plaster and the long lanky cotton bodies are loosely stuffed. She had a comb in her cotton yarn hair and a rust colored silk shawl with fringe. The shawl has rotted but I have some of the fringe with the name tag of the artist.(Sardeaw's Dolls). Helene Sardeaw was a native off Belgium. Made dolls of movie stars 1921-24. On page 542 in Coleman's Encyclopedia of Dolls Vol. 1 ,you will see her history.. A movie was made of this event and produced by a young producer named David O.Selznick. It was his first film and he went on to big fame with "Gone With The Wind" and others. This girl that came to my house from Penn, and is working on a book, said she had never seen the dolls. So with all that, I would say they are very rare . The contest came to Birmingham, AL, Mar. 31 and went on to Louisville after here and ended in Nov. in NY.
Click on this link to read more about Valentino dolls and others.