Annalee was stumped. She was struggling with the artwork for the face of a new Mrs. Santa design. She just couldn’t get it right. And the face had to be just right!
With a wink of her eye and a twist of her head, inspiration finally struck Annalee — right in her backyard. More precisely, at her workshop at the Factory in the Woods.
Margaret “Maggie” Pickering was an employee at Annalee Dolls from the late 1960s through 1986. She worked in many departments, eventually becoming co-supervisor of in-shop production — the department that dressed and assembled smaller dolls. It was Maggie, and her remarkably kind and loving face, that gave Annalee all the inspiration she needed for her Mrs. Santa. Annalee asked Maggie to model for her new sketches, and it was Maggie who would become the face of a much-beloved design, the 29-inch Mrs. Santa from 1971.
Maggie’s face, as drawn by Annalee, would appear on other dolls and continues to enchant people today, especially in many of our exclusive designs. Her memory lives on.
This year, with the Christmas season upon us, all of us at Annalee have been remembering Maggie, even more so when we learned of her death at age 98. Her obituary, which you may read here, perfectly describes her life as “a testament of kindness, love, and faith.” We couldn’t agree more, and we will miss her dearly.
“We have been remembering Maggie so fondly,” said Gracie Blackey, director of design at Annalee Dolls. “She was such a nice person. I would almost say she was a perfect soul.”
Annalee’s daughter-in-law, Karen Thorndike agrees: “Maggie was such a sweet, wonderful woman. She surely was our Mrs. Santa.”
To many people, it’s the starry eyes in Annalee’s drawings that make Maggie’s face so recognizable and unforgettable. As the saying goes, “the eyes are the window to the soul.”
Thank you, Maggie, for your inspiration and for the legacy of smiles you’ve left to the world.