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Marcella Gruelle

Here is the latest clip from our documentary “Raggedy,” which covers one of the great tragedies in Gruelle’s life, the death of his daughter Marcella. Gruelle’s daughter was the first of his children and a great inspiration to him as an artist. Marcella was the light of his life and would be one of the first to encourage the creation of Raggedy Ann.

One way that Johnny generated content for his art and comics was by watching his daughter entertain herself with her dolls. Gruelle would watch Marcella play in the grass with her various toys. He observed that his daughter was making the dolls come to life and venture out in her personal world. Marcella’s playtimes were undoubtedly a great source of ideas for the observant Gruelle.

Marcella playing with Ann and other dolls.

As a result, Johnny began telling stories of Marcella’s dolls to her before she went to sleep. He would tell great tales of her dolls venturing out into the woods during the night, hoping to find excitement. Gruelle’s stories thrilled Marcella, and coupled with his illustrations, gave her more reason to expand her imagination.

It can be assumed that Gruelle’s connection to children’s minds came from his interaction with his daughter. He would often include her in many of his stories and drawings. Marcella was believed to be the one that spurned his creation of the doll the world would come to know as Raggedy Ann. Many stories recount that she found an old rag doll in the attic of the Gruelle house, which Johnny drew a face on and gave the name “Raggedy Ann.” There are several different accounts of the origin of Raggedy Ann, but there is no doubt that her inception was brought about by Marcella.

Sadly, Marcella became gravely ill after being vaccinated for smallpox at her school. She did not bode well with the vaccine and had to be taken out of school due to her sickness. After being bed-ridden for months, Marcella passed away at the age of 13.

This tragedy struck Gruelle unbelievably hard. He had seemingly lost the great inspiration for his work. His joy for life and his art had vanished in an instant. However, after a long mourning period, Gruelle finally returned to his work. He believed he could alleviate his own pain by spreading happiness to others.

Please visit our IndieGoGo page and donate to help finish our project.


Raggedy News

Original Raggedy Ann patent.

Hello Raggedy world! We are happy to report that things are going well for the “Raggedy” documentary and its IndieGoGo page. We have raised a ton of money for our project, but we still need more. The love and support for the project is fantastic to see, but with a little more help we can make something truly incredible.

Throughout the week we will be updating our blog with new clips from the film as well as more inside information about Raggedy Ann and Andy creator Johnny Gruelle, so stay tuned. We are in the final stretches of our donation campaign, so please visit here to give to the film. Also, here is our YouTube page so you can view clips from the film.

Clip From “Raggedy”: Gruelle’s Early Career

Gruelle's mentor James Whitcomb Riley

Here’s another new clip from our upcoming documentary “Raggedy.” Just like what was stated in the video, Johnny’s father Richard was none too pleased about him becoming a cartoonist. However, family friend James Whitcomb Riley new that Johnny would be successful in something he had his heart fully invested in, which is exactly what happened.

During his first job as a cartoonist at the Indianapolis Star newspaper, Johnny simply signed his name as “GRUE” or in the phonetic manner “GRUE*L. His comedic sensibilities showed in his caricatures of people and events. Gruelle was also known to be a quick worker, especially during fishing season. He would often show up to work dressed in his fishing gear during the summer. However, his exceptional talent allowed for him to complete his work in brief periods with no impact on quality.

During his stint at the Indianapolis Star Gruelle created his first continuous cartoon character: Jim Crow (not related to Jim Crow Laws). Jim Crow was a weather bird that was specifically dressed in accordance to the weather. If it was warm, Crow would wear a straw hat and fishing pole, while if it were cold he would adorn a hat, coat and boots. In fact the Star still uses Crow as their funny weather bird to this day, although he has been renamed “Joe” Crow for obvious purposes.

Gruelle took his success to Cleveland and then on to New York, where he drew for the Herald. It was there that he created a new and award winning character, named Mr. Twee Deedle. The creation of this character further cemented his talents as an inventive mind. Mr. Twee Deedle was actually created by Gruelle family friend Solon Borglum, who described him as an “elf who lived in a gnarled tree and had the ability to make himself invisible.” Gruelle actually approached Borglum about making Mr. Twee Deedle into a cartoon character. Borglum happily agreed.

Mr. Twee Deedle

Interestingly enough, Mr. Twee-Deedle was Gruelle’s first foray into the doll-making world. The lovable creature was made into a doll by A. Steinhardt & Bro. in New York City. The price of the doll at the time was between $1.00 and $1.70. Although the doll wasn’t a massive hit, it gave Gruelle exposure and confidence in the doll and toy world. Surely without Mr. Twee Deedle their would be no Raggedy Ann, who made her debut in the elf’s cartoon.

Please visit our site so we can get our documentary done! Thanks for reading!

An Early Look at Johnny’s Life


Just like I promised, here’s a new clip of our upcoming documentary “Raggedy.” This short segment highlights the humble beginnings of Johnny Gruelle’s life and his journey to become a great artist. Johnny’s first great inspiration was his father, Richard Gruelle, a landscape painter.

Johnny’s first teacher was in fact his father, who taught him the fundamentals of drawing. He┬ástudied his father’s work as a toddler until becoming a teenager. By the age of 16, he was carrying a pad and pen everywhere he ventured, drawing everything he found interesting. However Johnny was drawing in a much different style from his father. He was drawing the likeness of friends as well as strangers in a fun and cartoonish style, much to their amazement and joy.

A major event in Johnny’s young life was when the circus came to town. He would always take his younger siblings to this fantastic event. The circus for Johnny was like his imagination springing to life right in front of him. He particularly enjoyed the behavior of the clowns and paid close attention to their painted faces and costumes. It is now obvious that he was absorbing their fashion for his own characters, particularly Raggedy Ann and Andy. You can easily draw relations between the painted faces of the Raggedy dolls and a normal clown, as well as connect their similar style of dress.

Another interesting fact pointed out in the clip is that Richard Gruelle was dear friends with the famous poet and writer James Whitcomb Riley, whose most famous poems included “Little Orphant Annie” and “The Raggedy Man.” Johhny Gruelle is famously noted for naming Raggedy Ann after these two poems.

These are just some of the facts about Johnny Gruelle and the Raggedy Dolls found in our film “Raggedy.” I will posting another clip this weekend, so stay tuned. In the meantime, please visit our IndieGoGo page where you can donate and help us finish our documentary.

What’s To Come

Hello Raggedy fans! It’s been a while since our last post…but now we’re here to make up for it! The Indie Go-Go project is halfway done and it’s crunch time. We are happy to report that we have raised a good bit of money, but like always, we need more.

The team has decided that we should overhaul the blog updates on this site and that is what we’re doing. We will be frequently adding to this blog site to attract new and old fans to the project. There will be preview clips from the film that you, dear reader, can watch and comment on our YouTube page.

The videos will give you insight into what our documentary, “Raggedy,” is all about. In addition to the video previews, we will be revealing interesting details about the life of ┬áRaggedy Ann and Andy creator Johnny Gruelle to keep fans satisfied until the project is completed. We truly appreciate all of the great support we are getting. We just need a little more to keep the ball rolling until it crosses the finish line, but I know we can get this done.

Please leave comments!

A Fantastic Start to IndieGoGo

This “Raggedy” post is a special one that we are extremely happy to share with all of you. We launched our IndieGoGo campaign last week and we have already raised $900! That’s unbelievably incredible and generous! With all of your support, we can surely meet our goal with nearly 50 days left.

Here is a special thanks to these great and generous people:

Susan Patridge

Charles Platt

Tom Corbin

Peggy Elkins

Melinda Annon

Elodie Higgins

Anthony Amoto

Kris Alexander

Donna Schwartz

Again, many thanks to all of you. We are happy to have you on board with keeping the legacy of Johnny Gruelle alive!

IndieGoGo Is A Go-Go!

It has been a long journey with the “Raggedy” project but we are happy to announce that we are getting closer to the final product. What’s today’s breakthrough you ask? Well, we have launched our IndieGoGo page to help raise funds to finish the project. It can be found here.

Now, a lot of people use these fundraising sites for their films, sick relatives, comic books, etc., but our message is different. We aren’t discounting the importance of anyone else’s artistic our personal projects, but “Raggedy” is truly a picture that is meant for the fans. All of us have had or heard of Raggedy Ann and Andy at some point in our lives. This film is meant to preserve and celebrate the legacy of the dolls creator, Johnny Gruelle as he has made life more enjoyable for all of us with his creations. It is also a celebration of those who have always held a special place in their heart for Raggedy Ann and Andy.

This picture is meant for avid doll collectors, Raggedy Fans, Gruelle fans or those of you who once carried your red-haired doll named Ann or Andy everywhere you went.

Raggedy Trailer

Hey, it’s Andy again! I’m proud to unveil the new trailer for our documentary “Raggedy.” Just click here for the world premiere. Also we have a lot of great stuff in the works, so stay tuned!

Big Stuff in The Works

Hey everybody, it’s your pal Andy. My sis is having some trouble with all of this new technology so I’ve taken over. Anyway, we now have a Twitter account and YouTube page, which we’ll be updating soon!

We hope to have sections of our documentary up soon on YouTube for all of you fans! Plus, we’re working really hard to make it a fantastic viewing experience. Plus, we’re developing and IndieGoGo page soon so we can raise a teensy bit of money for the documentary.

We’ll be updating you with a new post soon that will connect you to all the necessary stuff across the web! Have a swell day!

Hello World

Hey, Raggedy Ann here! Oh, Andy wants to say hello too. Get away from the typewriter! Sorry about that. Well, this bleg, no blagg, no…OH! Andy says this thing is called a “blog.” Andy is swell with all these new technologies. He texts everyone for some reason. I still like writing postcards!

I’ll try and update the blog as best I can about my life, which is being made into a documentary. It’s really neat! I’m also on Y’allTube. No wait, Andy says that it’s “YouTube.” Oh, and I’m on Tweeter. Andy is poking me in the head. It’s Twitter, he says. OK, now that that’s all squared away we will be updating you all soon about our progress.

PS. I’ll try to update as fast as possible, but it sure is hard typing with these cotton mitts! Oh well…

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