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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 studied 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.


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