Dressed as a Richmond Football Club barracker, this doll is part of the museum’s L J Sterne collection, one of the few surviving collections relating to Australia’s once thriving toy and doll manufacturing industry.
Lionel Sterne arrived in Melbourne as a refugee from Austria in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. Noticing a wartime shortage of imported dolls and toys in Melbourne, he began experimenting in his East Malvern garage with various forms of papier mache to produce partial and complete dolls.
The enterprise was so successful that by 1946 the business was expanded to a full- scale factory in Carlton.
In 1958, Sterne was approached by TV ventriloquist Ron Blaskett, who performed on the children's program The Tarax Show on GTV Channel 9, to produce replicas of his doll 'Gerry Gee' for sale to the public. The 'Gerry Gee Junior' doll was born, and can be considered the first real example of television merchandising in Australia.
The doll was enormously popular, and soon the 'Geraldine Gee' doll, Gerry's sister, was added in 1960 to cater for female viewers. Throughout the early and mid 1960s several new styles of 'Gerry Gee Juniors' were produced to reflect contemporary fashions, interests and events – these included the Football Supporter, Cowboy and Cowgirl, Beatles Gerry, Space Gerry and Geraldine.