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Diana Dress

title It started in Michael Lam's garage, with no more than $5000. Fredericka Lam, who with her husband Michael founded and runs the Great American Doll Company, known among doll collectors and throughout the industry as GADCO, is speaking.

When Freddie talks about her company, the dolls, her husband, LIFE, it is like taking a fun, all-out windy, winding drive down Route 1, along the coast of California. You hang on, catch what you can, and try to stay, more or less, on the road.

"We started the doll division and contracted with a company in France and worked with them for about 10 months, but a large toy company bought the French company and stopped all our production,

so we had a lot of money invested in development and not one doll to sell," Freddie says. "We found another company and produced our first line of dolls for about five years."

Then this happens. She has a dream. In the dream, she is at a corporate board meeting and she is pitching the idea of starting her own company.

In the dream, she vividly remembers stating, without pause, the name of her new company--"The Great American Doll Company." Her husband confirms her choice and bangs the gavel in agreement, saying, "That's perfect-that's it!" She awakens. This is a SIGN.

The encouragement from Michael however, comes with a challenge. First and foremost a businessman, he had to be convinced that Freddie's dream of an idea would translate into a good business decision. At her first appearance at the International Toy Fair in New York City, she has to stir up "X-million dollars' worth of orders" to launch the project.

At the fair, her booth had lines 20 buyers deep. The orders enabled her to start the company without borrowing.

This year, GADCO is offering its growing number of collectors the childhood of a famous first lady, a portrait of a princess, little girls fit for a Tiffany's window, and babies so popular that the company had to install three extra vinyl ovens to keep up with demand.

From the first, GADCO made news...as it made its dolls. Remember the Gabriela Sabatini doll? It was introduced at the 1994 Virginia Slims Championships in New York City. Sabatini, the Argentinean tennis ace, ended a 29-month title drought by winning the championship.

Freddie laughs when she recalls the publicity that surrounded the event. "What happened was this. Gabriela had been in a 43-event dry spell, but just as we launch the doll, she wins. INCREDIBLE!"

Later the Lams donated the prototype Gabriela doll to an auction benefiting the Pediatric AIDS Foundation of Los Angeles, California. The doll brought in $10,000, only a couple thousand less than Christian Slater's Cadillac.

From Gabriela, let us proceed to another GADCO doll that made a national splash--the Jackie doll.

"We wanted that doll to be perfect," says Freddie. "Planned it more than four years ago, when Jackie was still alive. It's a tribute to a wonderful lady and to an era of INNOCENCE."

The 35-inch Jackie doll was designed by Italian sculptor Bruno Rossellini, based on photographs of the young Jacqueline Bouvier, age five. The edition was limited to 5000. Notice of the doll appeared in newspapers all over the country, including the front page of the New York Times Styles section. One detail of the doll that received laudatory reviews--in addition to the gold chain and coral-like bead necklace that GADCO purchased at Sotheby's famous Jackie Kennedy auction, the quality of the vinyl, and the top-of-the-line costume--and Jackie's hairdo.

GADCO commissioned Cristophe, celebrity Beverly Hills salon owner, to design the 'do'. Cristophe came up with a curly flip that both looked like the little girl and foreshadowed the famous look of the adult Jackie Kennedy. Cristophe refused payment for his work; the hairdresser's fee was donated to a charity that funds research on Lymphoma.

Charity is also behind the Princess Diana doll now taking center stage among the crowded field of dolls depicting-more or less recognizable-the late princess. GADCO's doll, resplendent in a powder blue gown fashioned after the one GADCO purchased at the Christie's auction of the dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales, is one of only a handful of portrait dolls that have earned good reviews. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the dolls is slated for charities on behalf of Princess Diana.

At GADCO...we take your doll collecting seriously.

The Great American Doll Company
36101 Bob Hope Drive, Suite E-5 #416
Rancho Mirage, California 92270

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