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Baby Sandy - "The Wonder Baby"

I have three Baby Sandy dolls in my studio. Two were in BAD shape by the time I got them. I restored the largest and the smallest of my dolls at the same time. I have NOT restored the 14-inch doll because her eyebrows are really unique, and I don’t want to take away from her original finish.

The 12 inch doll and the 14 inch doll had a fair amount of damage and compo rot on their heads.

Someone had "repaired" the 16 inch Baby Sandy with a wood epoxy product and it was a mess. She also had some damage to her neck.

All the pieces were stripped of their paint and glue composition. I removed the ugly "feet" and rebuilt them with a two part epoxy. The neck was repaired with the same product. The pieces were then sanded and primed with an oil based primer. When the new "skin" was smooth, the pieces were airbrushed with an oil based paint. Here is a picture of some of the pieces part way through that process.

Facial features were hand painted on with acrylic paint. The hair and blush was airbrushed on. Finally the dolls had their eyes repaired, lashes replaced and the sleep eyes were reset into their heads. Setting the eyes is tedious and time consuming.

At last, the dolls were finished and ready to be redressed. I had a dress from a Madame Alexander Dione Quintuplet that fit the 16 inch doll perfectly. I ended up making three dresses for the 12 inch doll before I was happy with her dress. New oilcloth shoes and rayon socks complete their outfits.

These little girls are restored, redressed and ready to be adopted. But wait! Baby Sandy has a story behind her. She is one of many character dolls created after a baby celebrity. Here's the rest of the story.....

Babies were extremely popular in early movies. One of the most popular baby stars was Baby Sandy, a childhood star whose acting career was over by age 5. However, her name lives on in collectibles and images. Especially through dolls created in her image. She was Universal Studios “Wonder Baby” and their answer to Shirley Temple.

Baby Sandy was born Alexandra ('Sandra) Lee Henville. She was born in 1938. She was the child of a milkman. Her father learned that Universal Studios was looking for a baby to appear in a Bing Crosby film. He submitted some photos of his year-old daughter and dropped them off – along with the regular milk delivery, on the porch of one of his customers – a music director for Universal Studios. Sandy was cast in “East Side of Heaven,” starring Bing Crosby and Joan Blondell. The baby in that film was supposed to be a BOY, so Sandra became Baby Sandy.

More movies followed: “Unexpected Father” was made in 1939 as well and was written with Baby Sandy in mind. Before long Baby Sandy’s name was not only above the title, but part of the title in “Sandy Gets Her Man,” Sandy Steps Out” and “Sandy is a Lady.”

By age 5, Sandy was no longer a cute baby or toddler, and her film career was over. But a lot of merchandise was made in her image. Ralph Freundlich Novelty Corp. purchased the rights to Baby Sandy in a 1939 and produced several different sizes of composition dolls. The dolls ranged in size from 8 to 19 inches. They had molded hair. The smaller sizes had painted eyes. The others had sleep eyes. There were also paper dolls and a book titled “Baby Sandy: The Life Story of the New Universal Pictures’ Wonder Baby,” and of course “Baby Sandy’s Health Charts” were given away by Lysol Disinfectants as an advertisement.

Sandy grew up, was married and divorced twice, had two sons and was a legal secretary. Her career was short, but her dolls and collectibles are still around. I really enjoyed restoring these little darlings and I will continue to collect Baby Sandy memorabilia, she's one of my favorite dolls.

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26. Nov. 2023

I just watched the movie Bachelor Daddy 1939 and wondered what happened to Baby Sandy. This led me to your page. The dolls are lovely.

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