The Bild Lilli
The Bild Lilli is a German doll made after a 1952 comic strip character in The German Newspaper Bild-Zeitung. Lilli was created by Comic strip artist Reinhard Beuthien when he was directed to fill in a blank space for the newspaper. Lilli was a sassy, uninhibited, German secretary who didn’t mind talking about sex. The Lilli comic strip was so popular that Beuthien’s editor had him to write one every day.
The First Bild Lilli Doll Produced
Reinhard decided he wanted to produce a doll after his Lilli character. Max Weissbrodt from the famous Hausser/ Elastolin company created and produced a doll that Reinhard found satisfactory and in 1955 the first Bild Lilli was sold in Germany.
Bild Lilly comes to United States
The Bild Lilli doll was sold as an adult novelty doll in smoke shops and some toy stores. Later Lilli was exported to several foreign countries including the United States. The stands sold in the U.S. were marked “Lilli” only. The original stands were round plastic, marked ” Bild Lilli” and had a metal prong that inserted into a hole in the bottom of the doll’s foot.
The Bild Lilli doll was launched in 1955 and was made until 1964. Lilli came in both a 7 ½” and an 11 1/2” size and was shaped very voluptuously. Lilli was made of plastic and her limbs were attached inside by rubber bands. Both her gold earrings and her black high heel shoes were molded on. Lilli had side glancing eyes with heavy eyeliner, white irises, red lips and nails, and narrow arched eyebrows. She came with either a blonde ponytail, which was the original comic strip characters hair color, or a brunette ponytail with a single curl brushing her forehead. Lilli has a cut-out scalp and the wig is held in with screws. Bild Lilli was unmarked and her name was on her stand.
In 1960 Rolf Hausser, Managing Director of Greiner and Hausser also known as G&H, received a U.S. patent for the “ doll hip joint “ that was being used for G&H’s Bild Lilli doll. That same year G&H also gave Louis Marx and Company, an American toy company based in New York, the exclusive license rights to the Bild Lilli doll in the U.S. , Hong Kong, Canada and Great Britain. According to the agreement , Louis Marx and company had the rights to Bild Lilli for a period of 10 yrs.
In 1961 Greiner and hausser, along with Louis Marx and Company, sued Mattel for copyright infringement on Greiner and Hausser’s patented “doll hip joint” and also claimed that the Barbie was copied and taken directly from the German Bild Lilli Doll. G&H and Marx and Company also claimed that Mattel used false and misleading representation of the Barbies origins. Mattel countered, the case was dismissed, and in 1964 Mattel bought the copyrights to Bild Lilli for 21,600.
Regardless of the origins of these two beautiful dolls both are highly prized by collectors and are an enviable addition to any doll collection. The barbie is still being made to this day and is sure to bring smiles to the faces of collectors of all ages.