Author: Woolsey Ackerman


By Woolsey Ackerman

Once a film has gone through its’ conception, various script drafts, pre-production, filming and post production, it is time for what many film makers see as the real work—- promotion!

In the hey-day of the golden era of movies, each studio had a labor intensive, overly creative and overly worked department for the promotion, advertising and merchandising of each of their movies, as well as for their individual contract personalities. 

The campaigns for those opulent million-dollar films was extravagant.  

The public audience of the 1930s, weary from the economic and emotional Depression, sought out the movies.  Movie makers gave them the entertainment they wanted, often presenting extravagant promotions as major as the movies themselves.

By the late 1930s, as the world economy improved, movie studios began producing expensive fantasy films.  The studios would create wild campaigns for movie magazines, magazine articles and ads, newspapers, radio, theatre lobby, entrance and marquee displays, posters, billboards, contests and merchandising of all kinds— including publications, music, records, games, toys, dolls, clothing and jewelry lines.  These would all be presented in a tremendous studio publication, a campaign book. 

When Walt Disney shorts’ characters, Shirley Temple and other child stars, Disney features such as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA, Paramount’s GULLVER’S TRAVELS and MGM’s THE WIZARD OF OZ all proved to be bonanza, not just for the box office but for merchandising , other studios ventured into this new realm.

In England, Alexander Korda jumped on the Technicolor fantasy bandwagon with THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. With the onset of the Second World War, it became dangerous to continue filming in England, so the entire enterprise was brought to Hollywood to continue production. 

When it came time to promote the film, Korda did so in the style of his American brothers — merchandising his film in a manner as opulent as the production itself.  The dolls and their costumes and jewels that were created have never been surpassed; and that jewelry line bearing the Korda name on each piece is today among the most sought of its type.  

Thief of Bagdad Promotional Brochure

Thief of Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief of Bagdad promotional tour
Thief of Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief of Bagdad promotional tour

Imagine, in 1940, any of these dolls beneath your child’s Christmas tree.  Today many of us are thrilled with pieces inspired by our favorite films.  What child doesn’t want a toy from their favorite film?

Campaign books too are highly sought by collectors, and Walterfilm often features them.  For this holiday offering we present the story of the toys made for this special film and a pictorial look at the extravagance of how a classic golden age film was presented and promoted. 

THIEF OF BAGDAD Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1940

Classic Hollywood Dolls, Hollywood Movie Memorabilia, Motion Picture Marketing

Colorful Characters for the Holidays


Imagine as a child or even an adult of the Depression era finding a fully articulated toy model of your favorite movie, radio, animation, comic or even advertising character!  

Joseph Kallus (above) was the supreme designer of such portrait model toys during the era spanning 1925-1945 in which he used composition molding, elastic strung wooden segments and wire armature bodies to create his piece, here is the story:

Betty Boop, Dumbo, Fanny Brice, Felix theCat, Howdy Doody, Joseph Kallus, Mickey mouse, Popey, Three Caballeros

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Imagine it’s Christmas 1939 and you, as a movie aficionado, or just someone who loves going to the pictures, have enjoyed a year of groundbreaking brilliant entertainment.  You have no idea that in 80 years “1939” will be the year that the world will crown as, “Hollywood’s Golden Year.”

Also, just imagine that under your Christmas tree there are a plethora of toys and dolls created in the likeness of those Hollywood movie characters presented as marketing tools and designed by those who would become legends in their fields.  Well, child or adult wishing for such and looking at the Christmas store windows or under the tree— it did happen.

Hollywood's Golden Year - The Movie Dolls of 1939

Hollywood’s golden year of movies also became the golden year of movie merchandising and today those dolls and toys created for that season represent the apex in that arena of movie and doll related collecting.

Baby Sandy, Carmen Miranda, Charlie McCarthy Detective, Deanna Durbin, Gone With The Wind, Gulliver's Travels, Hollywood Movie Dolls, Judy Garland, Pinocchio, Shirley Temple, Sonia Henie, Superman

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