Chatty Cathy, the pull-string talking doll, was a huge sensation in the 60’s and early 70’s. Originally produced by Mattel in 1959, she became the second most popular doll on the market next to Barbie. She featured a string with a plastic circle pull-piece, or “chatty-string”, on her back that allowed her to speak. The original model came with 11 present sayings such as “I love You,” and “Let’s play school!” Since her inception, the doll’s popularity has prompted a fanclub, book, and hundreds of collectors worldwide. Her wardrobe expanded from a simple blue dress to a playtime set, Sunday dress, and pajamas. Chatty Cathy was one of the first talking dolls on the market, boosting the Mattel company more than it already was as the creator of the Barbie doll.
Chatty Cathy was designed to compliment Barbie. She was the child-like doll juxtaposed to Barbie’s adult form; small girls could relate to her in real time while Barbie was what they aspired to be. According to June Foray, the voice of Chatty Cathy, she was inspired by a the image of a “sweet little girl” who had “sensitivity and loving qualities.” Although she was a mass production doll, there were multiple versions ranging from blonde hair with blues eyes to brown hair with brown eyes. Rarer combinations were blonde hair and brown eyes and vice versa due to stock availability. Vintage Chatty Cathy dolls continue to be sold today. Collectors pay close attention to details like the dolls skin tone, eye placement, freckle pattern, eye color, hair color, lip color, and packaging. These features sometimes vary from doll to doll driving collectors prices up or down. At the turn of Cathy’s 40th anniversary, Mattel recreated a collectors Chatty Cathy replica. The original dolls are currently being sold on eBay for upwards of $500, and even more worldwide.
For more information on Chatty Cathy, check out the video by Mattel below: