Every day Rheba Myers looks at her distinctive collection of elaborate and exquisite dolls, none of which are the kind of dolls that are playthings for children.
The lifelike collectible dolls adorn her lamp tables, dresser, display cases and other furniture.
Her husband, the late John J. Myers, started the collection by giving Mrs. Myers a doll that is a regal model of a queen wearing real gems, a necklace, tiara and stately gown.
Observing the displayed dolls, Mrs. Myers said, “I’m attached to the queen more than the others because that’s the first one he gave me.”
A doll of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in her wedding gown was also one of the first dolls that Myers gave his wife.
Critics made fun of the wedding gown and said it looked like a lamp shade and it does, Mrs. Myers said. Observing the doll, she said, “I thought that was really the most hideous wedding dress I’d ever seen. Why would anybody put two big flowers on a wedding dress like that?”
There are two dolls in her collection of actress Elizabeth Taylor dressed in costumes that are reproductions of her outfits in the 1963 movie “Cleopatra,” starring Taylor with Richard Burton. Every detail of the outfits is authentic and the doll’s face reflects the shape of Taylor’s mouth, her eyes and nose.
“If you’ve seen the movie, you can see how much they (the Cleopatra dolls) look like the costumes in the movie,” Mrs. Myers said.
The majority of the dolls in Mrs. Myers’ collection came from her husband as a present. After they were married, he started giving her dolls. He knew she liked dolls because she always spent time in shops looking at them, Mrs. Myers said.
They were married 35 years and he ordered the collectible dolls from magazines that came to the house.
“He gave me a doll every year for Christmas. Sometimes he gave me one for my birthday and one for Christmas. He always said that he couldn’t think of anything (else) to buy me,” Mrs. Myers said.
Her birthday is Oct. 31, Halloween. “He never did give me any ugly Halloween dolls; I’m surprised that he didn’t” Mrs. Myers said.
Among the many dolls that he did give her are a huge and stunningly beautiful bride doll, many small dolls representing different countries, porcelain dolls made in Occupied Japan after World War II and a doll of a show girl that Mrs. Myers said with a laugh is her whore.
Two dolls are look-alikes for the characters Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from the book and movie “Gone with the Wind.”
Mrs. Myers is especially fond of dolls of a country grandma and grandpa sitting in rattan chairs that her son and his wife gave her. Both dolls wear wedding rings and glasses. The grandma also wears a country dress, apron and bonnet while the grandpa wears overalls, a shirt and a straw hat.
Mrs. Myers’ favorite doll is an African American boy wearing a white shirt, red bow tie, brown bib pants and cap. “His eyes look real. He just looks like he loves you and his hands reach out,” Mrs. Myers said.
The dolls are not only beautiful but their clothes “are made good too,” Mrs. Meyers, who has sewed a lot, said. “I can turn them wrong side out and look anywhere I want to and they are made perfect too,” she said.
Some of Mrs. Myers’ grandchildren have also given her dolls and she made miniature standup paper dolls of her 13 grandchildren using their school pictures.
While living at her home in Mineola, Mrs. Myers stored her collectible dolls in the boxes they came in so they would not become dusty. When Mrs. Myers, 84, moved into Prestige Estates Assisted Living in Tyler, her son brought many of the dolls to Prestige Estates and displayed them in her living quarters.
“I like to look at them. They don’t talk back. It’s a good collection,” Mrs. Myers said.