American Character Tressy

Name:  American Character Tressy

Made by and When:  American Character, 1965

Material:  Vinyl

Marks: (On the head) AMER. CHAR. TOY CORP. / 1963

Height: 11-1/2-inch

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Black rooted hair has a grow-hair mechanism in the top center of the head that allows the center portion of attached hair to “grow” and retract, painted brown eyes that glance to the doll’s right with heavy eyeshadow, closed mouth with pink lip color.

Clothes: Red short-sleeved sheath piped in white at the neckline and sleeves, white belt with a key attached, white panties, and white high-heel open-toe shoes. The dress is cut low in the back to access the key slot. A doll stand, hair, and makeup accessories, and a Tressy booklet were included.

Other: Tressy is the first grow-hair doll with a grow-hair mechanism operated by pressing a button in the doll’s midriff and simultaneously pulling the grow-hair section in the center of the doll’s head. Placing and turning a key in the slot in the lower back retracted the hair.

Designed by Jesse Dean and his wife Diana, there were two versions of American Character’s Black Tressy, stock numbers B1200 (with red lip color) and B1203 (with pink lip color). The first version, according to the website, “from 1964 has straight non-bending legs and came in a see-through box with a cellophane insert in the front. She came in the same red dress with white trim and belt with the key attached as the white doll, with hair clips, white panties, white open-toe shoes, and her Tressy stand. The second version … from 1965 has a magic make up face and bend legs. She came in a shoe-box-style box complete with her stand and dressed in the same red and white dress, white tie belt with key attached as the other Black Tressy. She also has hair clips, white panties, and white open-toe shoes.”

After American Character filed for bankruptcy in 1968, the Ideal Toy Corporation acquired the trademark for Tressy and the grow-hair feature. Ideal later created their line of 17-inch grow-hair dolls, one of which was named Tressy.

Gallery (Photo courtesy of Dawn Spears Black Legacy Images Collection)


Black Dolls 1820 to 1991 an Identification and Value Guide by Myla Perkins (referenced for the doll’s marks)
Tressy Dolls by American Character


Your comments are valued. Donations aid the initiative to preserve Black-doll history. 

If you subscribe to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum™ by email, be sure to click the post title in the email, which links to the website to view all text and associated media. Please “like” and share this installation with your social media doll contacts. To subscribe, add your email address to the subscribe or sign-up field in the footer or right sidebar. 

Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: