A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 01, 2014
“Eisenhower Doll—wind it up and it does nothing for eight years”

A popular joke was said by Democrats about U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (a Republican) in January 1961:

“And in Washington they’re laughing about the ‘Eisenhower Doll.’ Wind it up tight and put it in the middle of the road and for eight years it doesn’t do anything!”

The “X doll, wind it up and—“ meme became popular in 1960. This joke appeared in the syndicated “The Lyons Den” column by Leonard Lyons in May 1960:

“The Hob Nob is displaying a new toy doll, the Jessel: You wind it up and it goes to a testimonial dinner.”

The “doll” meme is still used. “Barack Obama doll — wind it up and it feigns anger” was cited in May 2014.


27 May 1960, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “The Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons, pg. 8A, col. 2:
The Hob Nob is displaying a new toy doll, the Jessel: You wind it up and it goes to a testimonial dinner.

23 August 1960, Seattle (WA) Times, pg. A2, col. 2:
Dick Hitt, Dallas, Tex., columnist, tells about a new toy, a beatnik doll, very lifelike. You wind it up and it walks to the nearest unemployment office for a check.

15 October 1960, Springfield (MA) Union, “Walter Winchell On Broadway,” pg. 4, col. 6:
Henry Sampler invented a “Frank Sinatra Doll.” You wind it up and it kisses another doll.

25 October 1960, The Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA), “Dream Street,” pg. 2, col. 5:
Now they are making a David Susskind doll. You wind it up and wind it up and wind it up.

8 November 1960, Boston (MA) Herald, “The Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons, pg. 35, col. 2:
A toy maker at the Sahbra showed his new “Politician Doll”: “Wind it up and it sidesteps the issues.”

15 November 1960, The Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA), “Dream Street,” pg. 2, col. 4:
Now they have a Pollster Doll. You wind it up and it Gallups in the wrong direction.

19 November 1960, Boston (MA) Daily Record, John Gillooly column, pg. 28, col. 1:
On the market for Christmas will be a waiter-doll. You wind it up and it looks the other way.

1 December 1960, The Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA), “Dream Street,” pg. 2, col. 5:
Now they’ve got a Mother-in-Law Doll. You wind it up and it moves in with you.

Google News Archive
24 January 1961, Miami (FL) News, “Dateline Miami” by Herb Rau, pg. 4B, col. 1:
And in Washington they’re laughing about the “Eisenhower Doll.” Wind it up tight and put it in the middle of the road and for eight years it doesn’t do anything!

4 July 1961, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Big D” by Paul Crume, pg. A1, col. 1:
CHARLES ELSON, the marketing consultant, says one of his clients is marketing a new toy.

“It’s called a President Kennedy doll,” says Elson. “You wind it up and set it down, and it spends another billion dollars.”

Google News Archive
20 August 1961, Pittsburgh (PA) , “In One Ear” by Joe McCarthy, The American Weekly, pg. 13, col. 3:
A WHILE ago we mentioned the Democrat joke about the Eisenhower doll; wind it up and it does nothing for eight years. As was to be expected, that item drew some comments from Republicans. One from Eleanore Lee White of Evanston, Illinois, tells us there is also a Democrat doll. When you wind it up, it heads straight for the nearest piggy bank.

Twitter
PolarCoug
‏@PolarCoug
Have you heard about the Michelle Obama doll? You wind it up and it does nothing but go on vacations for four years.
1:18 AM - 25 Apr 2012

Twitter
David Barton
‏@Bartontd
Have you heard of the new “Prime Minister” doll? You wind it up and it does nothing for 5 years!
4:27 PM - 29 Mar 2013

Twitter
Michael Dorstewitz
‏@MikeBPR
Cartoon of the Day: Barack Obama doll — wind it up and it feigns anger - Liberty Unyielding http://po.st/58nftq via @LibertyUnyieldi
3:38 PM - 22 May 2014

Tri-CIty Times (Imlay City, MI)
Everybody likes Ike
by Rick Liblong
June 18, 2014
(...)
President Eisenhower sometimes gets a bad rap as Chief Executive. There’s the old joke about the “Eisenhower Doll.” Wind it up and it does nothing for eight years. But the Eisenhower Administration was actually quite successful.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, July 01, 2014 • Permalink