Lilli, THE matrix
The clothing catalogues of Lilli were really very chic, despite the inuendo of her “profession” and the nearly lewd texts in Bild Zeitung newspaper, and it is very interesting to note that these documents were entirely influenced by the trends of popular female culture and international fashion of the times. The images are quite beautifully done and in pale, fashionable colours of the era such as canary yellow, baby blue and champagne pink, very post-war Europe in fact. But, the booklet had a very international flavour, also another acutely fashionable idea of the time since the war had been over for only a few years and culture was expanding through communication mediums such as television, radio and international magazines.
The cover illustrations which surrounded one catalogue is a photo of Lilli included amongst silhouettes of New York skyscrapers and the Eiffel tower in Paris and among zippy sportscars, and highball cocktails and martini glasses. Inside there were little drawings of cigarettes, ashtrays, Coke (Coca Cola), the newly fashionable “American” drink and of course, oh-la-la - always right - French champagne bottles, modernistic barstools, a clock indicating that it was three (one can bet it must be the time she comes home in the morning or the time she wakes up in the afternoon!) and Lilli reeling about wearing a flouncy low-cut ballgown. Obviously Lilli had a predilection for balls!
There are many photos of how the separate outfits came packaged, that is, in cellophane bags with a rectangular tag at the top to hang them in the toystore. The print for the pyjamas is noteworthy as is the print of Beuthien’s own drawings of Lilli which are similar to the catalogue. It shows a chic Lilli doll in silhouette with her fussy little poodle. There was another Beuthein cartoon, following Lilli’s success in the sixties called Schwabinchen. She was similar to Lilli except that she had black hair. On January 5th, 1962, the last Lilli cartoon was drawn as Beuthien left Bild-Zeitung supposedly because the newspaper asked him to marry off his beloved Lilli character. Thusly, he went over to rival paper Munich Abend Zeitung and did essentially a new Lilli but with black hair.
A Lilli with black hair
There were vinyl cases in nifty red with a window to see the doll, sports equipment, jewelery and, a nice detail, her shoes had a little flower, like Lilli's one on her earrings, on the front. She even was made in Holland under another name, Willy Wildesbras, and also in other countries such as Sweden where she was called simply Betty. They were made in much less quantities than even Bild Lilli doll. They were made between 1962 until about 1964. With snap on limbs (not strung like Lilli) and smaller hips, the doll's body was about 10 and a half inches long. Her big head, huge amount of hair, odd proportions and strange facial make-up makes her a bizarre yet fascinating character of that era for dolls. The fingers on the dolls were separated, a bit like Spanish flamenco dolls. The clothes, sold in cardboard boxes, had Prym snaps, but they did not fit Bild Lilli doll as they'd be too short and narrow and there was even a variation of this famous Prym doll clothing snap, instead of heart-shaped curls, had dots on the lower buttons....but nonetheless, these clothes which were sometimes based on Lilli's clothes patterns, were shortened and are hard to identify out-of-box. Beuthien would go on to do another Lilli-like cartoon, Gigi for the Star Revue and Revue in Germany,... who was the raciest cartoon of all! No more inuendo, but out right sex jokes! The cartoonist's last drawing was of Schwabinchen under the Christmas tree and he passed away on December 28th, 1970.
Wie einst Lili Marleen..
Some people even feel that Lilli was an outright “hooker”. In an Internet article in writting about Barbie’s secret origins, the author makes some interesting remarks:
“Easily overlooked by anyone who didn't understand Barbie's history, Lilli was dressed like a prostitute who didn't want to be noticed -- lost among the other non-Barbie dolls who were provided for educational purposes. It seems fitting that Lilli dolls were manufactured in Hamburg, a city where government-approved, licensed prostitutes are a fact of life. In the United States, where legal hooking is virtually unheard of, Lilli had to tone down her act. (Perhaps she changed her name in order to get around a U.S. immigration law barring prostitutes from becoming residents -- but that is just conjecture.) While it is still unsafe for a foreign prostitute to reveal her trade in the United States, Barbie -- decades later -- is no longer foreign. She is more American than many Americans, and perhaps even more hypocritical.“
That would make understandable the name “Lilli” for the doll since it was the name of a romantically mythical prostitute from Germany immortalized in a Marlene Dietrich song, “Lili Marlene” (and for which Lilli doll was sold as an export to the USA).
Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen.
(chorus) Wie einst…
Wie einst Lili Marleen.
(chorus) Wie einst Lili Marleen.
When Lilli did not come in her tube packaging, she came in a cellophane baggie-type bag. It looked, in fact, like a body bag for delivery to a morgue, but we’ll over-look that detail for the moment. There is known to exist a five inch, very svelte Lilli advertising figure which possibly served as a presentation stand for the cellophane packaged dolls. One of the cellophane packaged dolls was found in the same outfit as featured in an early article entitled “Lilli, Die schwebende Dame in Minatur-Ausfuhrung." (Lilli, the flying miniature woman) This article, found within the context of a magicians’ catalogue Werry Zauberkunst (“Hauptkatalog Nr. 3”) shows Lilli drawn in a very enigmatic, very mid-forties style “conjuring outfit," the kind seen on magician’s assistants, a brassière-style top, and a very open long wrap skirt accented with a flower. The cellophane-packaged Lilli wears the exact same outfit which is red silky synthetic material. It seems that this Lilli doll was actually able to be purchased through the catalogue as part of a “levitating doll” trick. It cost 38.50 German marks at the time. Lilli would later disappear for good and her whereabouts and possible other aliases are considered later in this research report.