Goodbye, Tom Tierney

One thing has been true for my girls, through thick and thin, long and short, now and then: a love of paper dolls.


They loved them—and love them. And I got to know, the way some people get to know dinosaurs, the specifics of the various paper doll artists. Also of olde time fashions. Hoop skirts. Crinolines. Medieval dress. But the one thing that they knew for sure, was that Tom Tierney was the best creator of paper dolls.


He didn't hold back, you know? My kids asked for his paper dolls over and over. Even now, they both have giant boxes of his paper dolls in their rooms, cut in crazy ways, sometimes beheaded, but always beloved.

He died. And his story is sort of fascinating. Apparently, his second official paper doll book was for gay men, and you could dress them up in fabulous clothes. (I especially like the chubby fellow in high heels, getting hugged.)

I know someday my kids won't want their paper dolls anymore, and things will be different. But it makes me so happy that there was one person who decided to make this strange art, and then people (lots of people!) went crazy for it, and it was fun and joyful and didn't necessarily make sense. (Lot's of vampire paper dolls. And Obama paper dolls. And…on and on.) But it was great. And he brought my kids—and no doubt, many other people—endless joy. It's enough to make you believe in something. I wish his family condolences, and I hope that he was as happy as he made other people.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye, Tom Tierney

  1. I loved his paper dolls when I was a child. I still have my uncut copy of his Erte 1920s paper dolls! Alas my daughter has never cared for dolls of any kind…


  2. I loved them too! I’m not a “doll person” but I read the name “Tom Tierney” and caught my breath– childhood memories flooding back. He made me very happy. I’m surprised and proud to hear he’s from Beaumont (fellow Lone Star citizen represent). I too hope he was as happy as he made us, and I hope he knew how happy he made us, too.


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