19 May 2014

My Filis Frederick "Find" on eBay

Clive Adams told me that a book by Filis Frederick was available on eBay. It was a steal, so I snapped it up: Design and Sell Toys, Games, and Crafts (Radnor, Pa.: Chilton Book Company, 1977). Here are the front cover and Filis's bio from the back of the book. (It's funny that Meher Baba's alphabet board is mentioned but not the reason why he used it: his silence!)

MS. FILIS FREDERICK, a Gemini with Scorpio rising, was born in New York City. She grew up on Long Island and moved to New York City in 1938 to pursue her career, after college years at Cornell and Radcliffe, New York University, and Traphagen School of Fashion Design.

The first part of her career was devoted to writing. A copywriter and editorial assistant with Vogue, McCalls Needlework, Look, Beauty Fair, and Fashion, the author also handled freelance writing assignments. She also designed clothes on a freelance basis and was responsible for the first short nightie. Later came work with several New York advertising agencies, at one of which she handled the publicity, promotion, and advertising for some twenty toy accounts. After an interesting stint at designing store displays for Allied Studios, Ms. Frederick joined the toy business as a designer for Cadillac Toys, where she originated number painting. The author was with Transogram Toys for five years and designed over forty games, including The Flintstones, Dragnet, Play Your Hunch, Tic-Tac-Dough (for the latter 8,000 quiz questions had to be thought of), and Adventures of Popeye, as well as many craft items.

From “Transy” Ms. Frederick moved to the West Coast in 1960. She was head game designer at Mattel for twelve years and was responsible for games such as Magnetel, Lie Detector, Barbie Queen of the Prom, Animal Talk, High Gear, the “Mystique” line of fortune-telling games, and others. In 1972 she left Mattel to work for the West Coast design firm of Goldfarb-Benkoe, Inc.

At present Ms. Frederick is freelancing toy design from her studio in Hermosa Beach, California, as well as writing. Her favorite hobbies are gardening, needlework, and—writing! For twenty-four years she has edited a magazine, The Awakener, devoted to the life and teachings of Avatar Meher Baba, the spiritual leader from India whom she met in 1952. It was Meher Baba who spelled her name as “Filis” (shorthand for Phyllis) on his alphabet board, and she has adopted that spelling ever since.

This book, which developed from the many requests Ms. Frederick had about the toy business and how to get into it took several years to research. The author hopes it will stimulate more young people, especially women, to go into the field of industrial toy design.


clive adams said...

Thanks Kendra. The biography on Filis's extensive career is a testimonial to how talented our dear friend Filis was and how self-effacing she was, since most of us in the Baba Family, never really knew the full extent of her talents.

David Raphael Israel said...

I just now ordered a used copy of this book via Amazon.com -- where there are several copies being sold.

All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.