There have been a couple of different dolls named Tressy with a grow hair feature. One of them was made by Ideal and was part of the Crissy family of dolls. If you wanted to know about her stop reading now because this page is about the other Tressy; the 12″ fashion doll made by American Character and under licence by Palitoy in the UK.
There is a very good Tressy site on the internet already that can tell you a lot more about Tressy than I can so I will briefly outline her history and add the link to the site for those who would like to know more.
Tressy was designed by inventor Jesse Dean after his wife Diana suggested the idea of a grow hair doll to him. Several companies including Mattel and Ideal rejected him before he signed with American Character in 1962. Tressy first appeared in 1964.
American Character made six versions of Tressy including an African-American one. They also made Mary Make-Up who had the same body as Tressy but you could colour her hair and her face was treated with a waxy coating to allow the application and removal of make-up. I’ve never seen a Mary Make-Up but in photos on eBay she looks strangely pale compared to the high colour of some of the Tressy dolls. Some of the later Tressy dolls also came with Mary Make-Up faces. Each version of Tressy has distinct differences and the Tressy website illustrates these very well if you have Tressy and are not sure which version she is.
In the United Kingdom Tressy was manufactured by Palitoy who from 1964 to 1979 made four different versions of her. My childhood Tressy is the first edition doll and came in a lemon coloured dress with a gold chain belt and a plastic key. She has kept her colour very well over the years. I have to say that the later versions look very different and progressively cheaper looking compared to the first one. In fact I wouldn’t have known them as Tressy’s if I hadn’t read about them on doll sites. Tressy or other dolls using Tressy’s grow hair mechanism were made in several other countries including Canada (Regal), Germany (Schildkrot), Spain (Novo Gama), France (Bella) and Mexico.
American Character also marketed a child doll, Cricket, who was said to be Tressy’s cousin. I suppose they thought there were enough little sister dolls already especially as Cricket bore rather a strong resemblance to Skipper.Palitoy called their version of Cricket “Toots” and she was marketed as Tressy’s little sister. Strangely, although I can’t remember ever hearing of Toots in England, when I was given a Skipper doll in 1966 I called her Toots. My cousin already had a Skipper so that name was taken :).
Palitoy made a range of outfits for Tressy and I remember seeing them in the booklet that came with my doll. There were some very nice ones but the only one I ever obtained was “Evening Date” which I thought very glamorous.
My three Tressy’s are pictured. On the left of the picture is my childhood Tressy again. She is unmarked. In the centre is another unmarked doll. She looks so similar to mine that I think that she might be a Palitoy doll as well. She is wearing a dress which I had as a child. It might be a Faerie Glen or just a generic brand. It was one that I used to put on Tressy a lot as it fit her the best. On the right of the picture is a Tressy who is marked American Character on the back of her neck. It is a little hard to read but she is certainly an American Tressy. She is a first edition Tressy from 1964 and has legs that go in a V shape when she sits. Later Tressy’s had straight legs. This poor Tressy is not in nearly such good shape as her English sisters and has lost a little of her fringe. I didn’t have a nice outfit for her when I took the picture so she is wearing this vintage coat and hat and nothing under it! I felt rather sorry for her so yesterday I gave her a bit of a tidy up, washed and conditioned her hair and dressed her in this Barbie outfit which Hubby had bought me some time ago which was still in it’s box. She’s showing off to the other two girls now.