90 years old and still can’t bust ‘m! After the Buddy Lee shop window we did at Tenue de Nîmes I kind of fell in love with this little figure. The buddies we used there where the new ones, the third rebirth of this iconic puppet. His history goes back to 1920, when Chester Reynolds, a Lee Company Union All salesman, had been handing out bite-sized promotional overalls at country fairs when the idea of creating a doll to fit them sprung in mind.
After that moment Buddy Lee changed from material (from a very fragile plastic to an unbreakable material where he got his name ‘can’t bust m’), grew a little (1 inch in 1949), worn different commercial outfits (from a Coca-Cola and Pepsi salesman, a Philips 66 station attendant to a railway man) and several Lee outfits (from the blue denim bib overalls with the striped jackets to the denim cowboy pant, shirt, bandana and hat). In 1955 Buddy Lee is the second most popular doll in the United States (you can guess who’s nr 1…) and available for only two dollars he is literally taking over the States! In that light, it is really amazing that this little doll became such a collectors item (the original buddy Lee is worth more than $1.000)
There are tons of stories about this little man, every decade got his own; Here’s just one.
“1951: One of the worst floods in the city’s history wipes out Lee’s Kansas City Distribution Center. It ruins the entire stock of merchandise, except the Buddy Lee dolls – which float.
A helicopter news team spots ‘babies’ drowning in the streets and reports that rescue boats (Lee employees) are out attempting to save them.”
Just another historical fact proving you can’t bust Buddy Lee.
Some historical shopwindows with Buddy Lee.
An old Buddy Lee advert.
The shopwindow at Tenue de Nîmes