WGSN takes a look at the weird and wonderful story of Buddy Lee, the mascot for denim brand Lee Jeans.
Much has been written on the history and legend that surrounds the classic and collectible Buddy Lee mascot for Lee Jeans. We’ve blogged about him in the past and spent a fair bit of time cruising eBay for dolls. But we’d not seen this hilarious video before and figured it’s worth a viewing.
Take a look in any denim connoisseurs vintage collection and you’ll no doubt come across a Buddy Lee. Standing at just 13-inches tall, Buddy and his impish little boy charm captured the hearts of American’s when he made his debut in the early 1920s as an advertising doll to model miniature versions of the work clothes that Lee produced at the time. The idea was the brainchild of the then sales manager of the company, Chester Reynolds, who later became the president of the board for the company.
Throughout his career from the ’20s through to 1962 Buddy worked his way through many jobs, from a cowboy in his felt hat and “Lee Rider Jeans” to engineer in bib overalls and even a special edition stint at Coca Cola. Lee loved the character so much that they even brought him back as a star of television advertising for the company’s Lee Dungarees line from 1998 until the mid-2000’s. Nowadays the vintage Buddy Lee doll is a rare item and you are lucky when you find an original from the early days.
We came across the video on the Awesome Long John blog, who seems to be pretty well versed in Buddy’s extensive history. The six-minute short, narrated by Peter Graves, farcically traces the history of Buddy Lee, suggesting he had been a premier idol in the 1920s and ’30s, but now lives in a miniature mobile home in California. Released in 1998, the video includes interviews with Buddy’s agent and third wife, a former starlet.
To find out more on Buddy Lee’s history take a look at our previous post on this rugged, spunky little character.
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