Buddy Lee dolls
Buddy Lee was an advertising mascot for Lee Jeans. The doll, a promotional item for the company from 1920 to 1962, was brought back as the star of television advertising for the company’s Lee Dungarees line from 1998 until the mid-2000s.
Sales manager Chester Reynolds, later Lee’s board president, came up with the idea of using a doll to “model” miniature versions of the company’s clothes for store displays. The 12½-inch composition dolls first appeared in the windows of Dayton’s flagship store on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, then were used at stores nationwide.
Lee encouraged stores to sell the dolls after the displays were taken down, and later provided the dolls for retail sale, including versions dressed as a cowboy, Coca-Cola deliveryman, railroad worker and gas station attendant. Starting in 1949, Buddy Lee was produced as a 13-inch hard plastic doll.
The Buddy Lee dolls were discontinued in 1962 because they were no longer profitable. By then, Buddy Lee had become the second-highest-selling doll in the United States.