July 19th, 2014

carole lombard 06
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Remembering the man who turned Carole into a paper doll

Above is a fairly common publicity still of Carole Lombard from her breakthrough film, "Twentieth Century"...but I'm guessing at least a few of you first became aware of Carole in leopard skin through the cover of this book:

We mention this because the man behind that book and scores -- no, make that hundreds -- of other publications devoted to paper dolls has passed away. Tom Tierney, 85, died July 12. He warranted a fairly lengthy obit in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/arts/tom-tierney-who-made-paper-dolls-an-art-form-dies-at-85.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1).

Tierney, a former New York fashion illustrator, had created paper doll books for the past four decades, beginning with "Thirty From The '30s" in 1974:

Here's a newspaper article about the book from January 1975:

That book had four outfits for Lombard, including the aforementioned "Twentieth Century" design later reused in the "Glamorous Movie Stars Of The Thirties Paper Dolls" shown above:

What made Tierney's work so popular wasn't just his artistry, but his research -- and sheer breadth of topics. Rather than restrict himself to Hollywood glamour, he made paper dolls of historical figures, from presidents (and first ladies) to royals and even Pope John Paul II. The Times obit described his books as "meticulously drawn and colored, and annotated with historical information"; in other words, not only could you have fun with paper dolls, but you could learn something about costume history as well.

It was a niche interest, to be sure, but a very profitable one for Tierney, as he nearly single-handedly revived an industry that had been dormant for decades, especially after the advent of Barbie.

He will be missed.
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