Terri Lee History:
1927: Terri Lee’s namesake, Harriet “Terri Lee” Schrepel, is born in Lincoln, Nebraska.
1946: Violet “Vi” Gradwohl founds Terri Lee Dolls, and names them after her daughter. Terri Lee is introduced to the world in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalogue and sells 8,000 dolls, creating an instant hit.
1947: Jackie Ormes, the first nationally syndicated African American cartoonis, signs a contract with Terri Lee, Inc. to produce the Patty-Jo doll. She was one of the first mass produced African American dolls to be sold nationwide. The Terri Lee doll company’s huge variety of costumes appealed to the very fashion-conscious Ormes.
1950: Gene Autry visits the Lincoln, Nebraska factory to promote the new Terri Lee Gene Autry doll.
1951: The first Terri Lee monthly magazine is issues
1957: A mysterious fire devastates the Terri Lee factory in Apple Valley, California
1960: The first Talking Terri Lee doll is nationally marketed. She came with a number of different records featuring songs and bedtime stories.
1962: Production of Terri Lee Dolls halts, but not for long…
1972: Vi Gradwohl dies at the age of 71.
1991: The first Terri Lee Collectors Convention is established in Dayton, Ohio. The annual three day convention continues to this day and draws fans and collectors from all over the United States.
1997: Fritz Duda, Violet Gradwohl’s nephew, retains the rights to the original doll’s molds and dyes, and establishes Terri Lee & Associates, with the goal of bringing back the iconic Terri Lee doll.
1999: Terri Lee Associates and the LL Knickerbocker Toy Company debut the Terri Lee 50th Anniversary doll at the New York Toy Fair. Featuring a 1950’s dress that glossed the cover of her own book “Fashionable Terri Lee Dolls.”
2002: Terri Lee is ranked the #4 best selling doll of all time by Doll Reader Magazine.
2005: The New Terri Lee Play Dolls debut at Target stores.
2007: Sears and Kmart launch a new ethnic doll campaign featuring the Terri Lee Play Dolls.
2010: Terri Lee & Associates headquarters moves to Chicago, Illinois and debuts the “Four Seasons” collection
The company to this day is family owned and operated.