Spin Again Sunday: Barbie Miss Lively Livin’ (1970)

In this week’s edition of Spin Again Sunday, we enter the mod world of Barbie, circa 1970, through the Miss Lively Livin’ Game. (This world was so exciting that Barbie lost the ability to enunciate her Gs.)

Copyright Date: 1970.

Recommended Ages: 8-12.

Game Box: Graphics in groovy shades of hot pink, orange, and purple add pizzazz to the box. The main photos shows tween girls with unfortunate bangs playing the game while stretched out on a shag-carpeted floor.

Game Board: This rainbow-rific board doubles as an advertising vehicle for Mattel; it shows many dolls and fashions available at the time.

Game Pieces: Photographs of Barbie, her friends Christie and P.J., and her cousin Francie.

Object: To succeed in having five different kinds of fun.

That first one gave me such trouble in high school.

Game Play: Traveling through Barbie’s world, girls attend school, shop at the Unique Boutique, go on dates, and spend time “doin’ things.” They wear metal bracelets and try to earn charms representing each kind of fun.

The charms

The first person to collect two of each charm proceeds to the pageant area. Fix your hair, grab your boyfriend, and receive your crown, Miss Lively Livin’! (The game includes a paper crown, which the winner has the prerogative of wearing throughout the subsequent game.)

My Thoughts: I like this game now because it includes photos of great mod Barbie fashions.

I’m sure I would’ve loved it as a child, too–the bracelets and crown are such a nice girly touch.

Bonus Feature: Here’s a 1970 commercial for the ultra-flexible Living Barbie. The Brady Bunch‘s Maureen McCormick was also flexible, it appears.

Though the doll was called Living Barbie, she had a Lively Livin’ House, which the Miss Lively Livin’ game board mentions.

A Living Barbie from my collection. She’s wearing Super Scarf, one of the outfits shown on the game board. I love the wool miniskirt, chain belt, and boots–it reminds me of the fashions Mary Tyler Moore wore in her show’s first season.


Family Affair Friday: Season 1, Episode 7, Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?, 10/24/1966

My 10-inch Buffy doll with her Mrs. Beasley. They’ve never been removed from the box, but Mrs. Beasley has plummeted to the ground–hey, just like in this episode.

This week, the latest installment of my Family Affair series features a classic Mrs. Beasley episode–and some dolly digressions.

Season 1, Episode 7, Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?, 10/24/1966

Teleplay by: Phil Davis and John McGreevey. Story by: Phil Davis. Directed by: William D. Russell.


A seeming tragedy occurs when Mr. French accidently knocks Mrs. Beasley off the terrace, and the doll is nowhere to be found below.

What could go wrong here?

Yeah. That.

Meanwhile, a related subplot finds Uncle Bill’s weekend plans to “sleep, play golf and do a little mild socializing” thwarted by conflict with a neighbor–a neighbor whose little girl suddenly owns a doll (Effie Boots) the spitting image of Mrs. Beasley.

Effie Boots’ owner is the spitting image of Pamelyn Ferdin.

A despondent Buffy, however, testifies that the doll isn’t hers.  The whole Davis family suffers along with Buffy.

See the clothes these two are wearing while Cissy makes the scrunched-face-of-concern at Uncle BIll? Well, keep them in mind. We’ll get back to them later.

Jody offers to let Buffy sleep with his turtle. Awww.

A sweet sisterly moment. Double Awww.

When all seems lost, Uncle Bill and his girlfriend du jour find Buffy’s doll in the apartment building’s garbage cans.

“Competition is the lifeblood of free enterprise,” the ragpicker notes approvingly when he sees Bill and his date rifling through the trash. Aren’t ragpickers amusing?

The happy reunion.

Random Thoughts

It would take a cold heart to remain unmoved by Buffy’s suffering. As a Barbie collector, though, I enjoy the toy store scene the most: drool-worthy Mattel dolls as far as the eye can see. I don’t know if Mattel had released the Mrs. Beasley doll yet, but obviously the show had forged its relationship with the toy company.

The mid-1960s was a golden era in Barbie history. In this scene, you can see several “American Girl” Barbie dolls. These were only made for two years and are highly sought after today. The long-haired doll in the background is Barbie’s cousin Francie. The Barbie clothes of that era were especially glamorous. The doll in the foreground is wearing Fabulous Fashion. You can spot other dolls wearing Fashion Luncheon and Pan American Airways Stewardess. One price guide I own values the latter at $900 if it’s still in the box! The little dolls on the shelf above the saleslady are Barbie’s brother and sister, Tutti and Todd, along with their friend Chris. Mattel made a Buffy and Mrs. Beasley doll in that same size.

Guest Cast: George Nelson: Frank Maxwell. Diane: Joan Vohs. Clara: Ann McCrea. Saleslady: Cathleen Cordell. Melissa: Pamelyn Ferdin. Scotty: Karl Lukas. Ragpicker: Andy Albin. Maid: Pauline Drake. Pamelyn Ferdin is a familiar face, and voice, from the 1960s and ’70s. Among other roles, she played Edna on The Odd Couple and voiced Lucy in A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Fern in Charlotte’s Web. She also appeared (with Johnnie Whitaker) on Sigmund and the Seamonsters and was in the ’70s version of Lassie. On The Brady Bunch, she appeared in the episode where Jan sports a wig. She also played Francie in a 1972 made-for-TV version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She would appear in three more episodes of Family Affair. Joan Vohs appeared in a second-season epidsode as Mrs. Scofield, then appeared in six third-season episodes as Miss Cummings. Andy Albin was a regular performer on Bob Newhart’s short-lived first series in 1961.

Continuity Notes: Cissy explains that after the death of her mother and father and separation from her siblings, Buffy had only Mrs. Beasley left as a friend.

Continuity error–Cissy and Uncle Bill are wearing the same clothes in this scene as they did in the “concerned conversation” scene above, but this scene takes place the next day.

Notable Quotes: “People you love always go away–I know.” Buffy

Well, that quote’s a bummer. So I will close instead with two random Buffy pictures. In Buffy’s happy scenes in this episode, Anissa Jones seems more animated than usual.

Anissa Jones cuteness.

I love that outfit, too. It reminds me of the Gymboree outfits I tried to get my daughter to wear when she was 4 and 5. (No dice.)

Today’s Bonus Feature

An article from Doll World, December 1996, about the small Buffy and Mrs. Beasley doll.

Read my whole Family Affair series!

Welcome to Embarrassing Treasures


Pure plastic-fueled delight

Memory’s a freakish bank/
where embarrassing treasures/
still draw interest–
Marge Piercy

As I approached our tree on Christmas morning, 1978, I knew I wouldn’t be getting the toy I wanted most.

The Barbie Star Traveler motor home, in all its orange-upholstered-and-rainbow-striped glory, was easily two feet long.


Under the tree, it would have been unmistakable.

Its absence was a disappointment but not a shock. My parents had spent the past few weeks telling me the motor home was out of the question. It was too big, too expensive, and too likely to end up broken, since I didn’t take good care of my toys.

I don’t remember what presents I did open that morning, but I’m sure I liked them—I always seemed to get more presents than I deserved and more than I imagined my parents (those masters of tamping down expectations) could provide.

After admiring our presents for a while, we would start getting ready for the two-hour trip to my grandparents’ house. Both sets of grandparents, actually, lived in the same small Southwestern Pennsylvanian town, and so did nearly all our extended family. Christmas morning at our house was cozy, but the day would have felt empty without somewhere else to go, a reason to dress up, a big Grandma-prepared dinner that started with the passing of Oplatek, and a chance to see aunts, uncles, and various cousins.

Sitting in the back seat of the car, listening to Christmas carols on the radio, I looked forward to finding out what waited for me under my maternal grandparents’ artificial tree. It had been sitting there, wrapped, for several weeks; I had seen it and shook it on our last visit. It was shaped like a clothing box, but larger and surprisingly heavy, and it made only a dull thump. It didn’t correspond to anything I’d circled in the JC Penney Christmas catalog.

Present time at my grandparents’ house was orderly, with each person opening his or her present as the others looked on. My little brother probably went first, and then it was my turn. I remember sitting in the chair beside the tree as I tore into the red wrapping paper. The box inside was plain, so I had to open it too. I reached in and pulled out my present.

A frying pan?

As I held it up by the handle to show everyone, I’m sure I looked confused. It flitted through my mind that both my grandparents had suddenly gone senile, so I attempted a smile to spare their feelings.

“Oh, how silly!” My grandmother said. “That’s your mother’s present. Yours must be in the closet.”

I was relieved, but still perplexed, until she brought out the box that really belonged to me. It was easily two feet long.

I look terrible in the picture of me opening the Star Traveler—but my awkward toothy smile radiates joy.

My grandparents have passed away, and so has my little brother. My parents eventually divorced. The town all my relatives called home has decayed, and virtually no relatives live there anymore. My original Star Traveler disappeared at some point, after years of heavy play, but I bought another one at a country auction a few years ago for $7. Watching my daughter’s Barbies inhabit it, I can still feel a little of that original thrill.

True nostalgia-junkies like me can even experience a thrill from artifacts that pre-date our own past; that’s why everything from old-time radio shows to outdated advice books for teenagers bring me pleasure.

That’s the feeling I want to capture in this blog, which is devoted to bygone amusements, experiences, objects, and ideas.

I hope that, in time, you will share your own embarrassing treasures here.

P.S. This awesome blog post shows the real-life model for the Star Traveler.