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Saturday, February 23, 2013

It strikes with no warning. Every so often, I wake up with the jingle for the 1970s Tiffany Taylor doll stuck in my head. Tiffany’s gimmick was a rotating scalp with dual hair colors. White Tiffany could be changed from blonde to brunette; African-American Tiffany switched between auburn and black.

Tiffany on a blonde day. Click for photo source.

Tiffany on a blonde day. Click for photo source.

These dolls were produced by the Ideal Toy Company from 1974 to 1976. I have no idea why that theme song has stayed with me for nearly 40 years. Maybe it’s the wolf whistle. Go to :32 to hear it.

After you’re done with the Tiffany Taylor ad, go back to the beginning of the video to see the crazy ad for the anatomically correct Joey Stivic doll. The doll, also by Ideal, was based on the character Archie Bunker’s grandson on the television show All in the Family. I had no memory of this doll at all, but the show itself was a major part of my childhood.

joey-stivic-doll

Click for photo source.

All in the Family is one of the greatest shows of all time (and if you disagree with me, STIFLE YOURSELF!). It was on from 1971 to 1979, as the nation debated the Equal Rights Amendment. The women’s lib movement hadn’t made much of an impact on my surroundings at that point. During my childhood, this riddle was popular.

“A father and his son were in a car accident. The father died. The son was taken to the hospital. The doctor came in and said: I can’t do surgery on him, because he’s my son. Who was the doctor?

I remember being astounded that the answer was “his mother.” I didn’t know that women could be doctors; I thought they could only be nurses. All the sexist (and racist and other -ist) stuff that Archie said on All in the Family were things people said in real life, and that shit was scary. On the show, however, it was always clear that Archie’s bigotry was foolish. Even as malapropism-spewing Archie called his wife Edith a “dingbat” and told her to “stifle herself,” their liberated, smart and sex-ay daughter Gloria (“little girl,” as Archie often called her) was always standing up for herself and her mother and giving her father what for. I swear, All in the Family helped make me the feminist I am today.

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Sally Struthers (Gloria) with Carroll O’Connor (Archie). Click for photo source.

Considering how important the show was to me specifically and the culture at large — Archie’s chair is at the Smithsonian — it should be no surprise that the theme song, “Those Were the Days,” has stayed with me as long as the Tiffany Taylor song has. I have the lyrics memorized, including that tricky “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great” line.

The impact of All in the Family on me also explains my love for its cartoon reincarnation, Family Guy. Crazy, dumb, bigoted Peter Griffin is an over-the-top Archie, while Lois is Gloria 20 years down the road. And I am always amused by the All in the Family-inspired opening, with Peter and Lois sitting at a piano like Archie and Edith, singing about the simpler days of yore.

Family Guy frequently (and mockingly) addresses social issues, but not to the extent that All in the Family did. Here’s one bit of All in the Family dialogue that sounds like arguments we’re still having today, unfortunately.

Gloria: Do you know that sixty percent of all deaths in America are caused by guns?
Archie Bunker: Would it make you feel any better, little girl, if they was pushed out of windows?

But Archie never got to say something like this.

I have to work “To the Hinden-Peter!” into conversation more often. I’ve already made “groinacologist” from All in the Family a normal part of my vocabulary.

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15 Responses to “Tiffany Taylor, She’s What You Want Her to Be”

  1. Megan Mae says:

    LOL – so I was playing the doll commercial and the DH was like “Okay, okay, dude this is freaking me out, okay I have to leave the room”

  2. Poochie
    Twitter: ShoeDaydreams
    says:

    My grandfather WAS Archie Bunker in so many ways. But maybe a bit less bigoted.

  3. Louise says:

    Wow, I have no memory at all of Tiffany Taylor! That seems so weird to me, since I was a latch-key kid in 1975-77 and watched tons of unsupervised TV.

    But All In the Family was a staple in our house and I had to sing the whole theme song in the middle of your blog post :-)

  4. déjà pseu
    Twitter: dejapseu
    says:

    Hah! I remember “groinocologist” too. I need to watch more Family Guy.

  5. jesse.anne.o says:

    I had that anatomically correct boy doll. My aunt bought it for my birthday when I was somewhere between 5-7 and I know other family members at the birthday party were pissed because of it. The funny thing is, it was the ONLY anatomically correct doll I had because none of the girl dolls I had were equipped with anything but a nondescript hole. I am pretty sure this doll is still in my grandmother’s basement along with my Cabbage Patch Kids and Seawees.

    I did love All in the Family but I wished they didn’t have Gloria break down in baby tears every two seconds.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I did a lot of crying over things my male relatives said back then, so I couldn’t blame her.

      Good thing you didn’t have any anatomically correct girl dolls….no unplanned doll pregnancies.

  6. Val Sparkle says:

    Wow, so much packed into that post! I remember the first time I saw All in the Family and it was about Gloria having a miscarriage. It was shocking to have such a serious and intimate issue on TV in the age of The Partridge Family and My Three Sons. What a brilliant show.

    But I can’t stop thinking about the Tuesday Taylor penthouse – I would die for one! I had a Barbie’s NEW Dreamhouse when I was a kid – it had three “rooms” and a sliding glass door and a patio. I LOVED it!

  7. Sheila says:

    I totally remember Tuesday Taylor! And the Thumbelina song is now stuck in my head – thank you, Wendy. That Joey Stivic doll is creepy!

    My family watched “All in the Family” – my grandfather thought Archie was great (he often clashed with my mom, who was quite outspoken). Lordy.

  8. All in the Family was so great. I wonder why the feminist message didn’t hit me over the head with a 2 X 4. It took me longer to get that part. Male relatives said mean stuff that made me cry too. One comment I’ll never forget, after getting my first bra at about age 13, was something like, “what are you trying to do, train your bra?”

  9. Tina says:

    I don’t remember these dolls but that Joey Stivic commercial was creepy. That is so funny that you mention “All in the Family”. I talk about that show in my class and the importance of it. I mention the accident scenario and here’s another one for you: I believe that AITF was the first time that you heard the word “pregnant” on TV. There’s an episode where Gloria tells Archie that she is pregnant and he was upset because only bad girls got pregnant but good girls had babies. I recently bought the box set on Amazon and the show is even better than I remember!

  10. Nicole Foos says:

    FYI my husband’s company, Shout Factory, but the entire All in the Family series out on DVD: http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/215652