Lynn Pressman Raymond, 97, Dies; Executive a Pioneer of Toy Ads, Packaging

Pressman Toy executive Lynn Pressman Raymond was the first to hire designers for packaging.
Pressman Toy executive Lynn Pressman Raymond was the first to hire designers for packaging. (Courtesy Of Pressman Toy Corporation)
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By Lauren Wiseman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lynn Pressman Raymond, 97, a prominent female chief executive who presided over a toy company that made products ranging from Mickey Mouse-themed games to play medical kits designed to ease children's apprehensions about visiting the doctor, died July 22 at her home in Manhattan of respiratory failure.

Mrs. Raymond worked in retail merchandising and advertising for New York department stores before marrying Jack Pressman in 1942. His company, founded in 1922, was one of the first toy companies to license popular characters, including Walt Disney's Snow White and the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, to sell its product.

Mrs. Raymond was vice president of the Pressman Toy Co. when in 1956 she developed one of her best-known ideas, the Doctor Bag. Inspired by her own children's fear of shots and vaccinations, the Doctor Bag was filled with toy syringes and stethoscopes. The company later created the Nurse Bag and, in 1962, licensed the Barbie and Ken names from competitor Mattel for Pressman's already popular kits.

After being widowed in 1959, Mrs. Raymond was a pivotal figure in the company's continued growth. She served as president for the next 20 years and expanded licensing deals to include Disney's Davey Crockett. Pressman Toy also sold Superman, Lone Ranger and Batman kites and signed professional baseball players Roger Maris, Tom Seaver and Carl Yastrzemski to promote the company's Action Baseball game.

Under Mrs. Raymond's leadership, Pressman Toy was one of the first toymakers to advertise games on television and was the first to hire fashion designers to create more appealing, and fashionable, toy packaging, according to her son, Jim Pressman, who now runs the Manhattan-based company.

"The packaging in the toy industry was very unstylish and she brought fashion to it," he said. "She took products that had been in the marketplace and gave them a whole new look."

During her tenure, Mrs. Raymond was one of only three women to hold top management positions in the toy industry, including Ruth Handler, who was the mastermind behind Barbie and who ran Mattel, and Beatrice Alexander Behrman, who created the Madame Alexander doll.

According to Tina Grant, author of the International Directory of Company Histories, Pressman Toy had become by 2004 the third-largest American games manufacturer.

Lynn Rambach was born in Queens, N.Y., on June 14, 1912, and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her first marriage, to Myron Hyman, ended in divorce. After Jack Pressman died in 1959, she married two more times. Her husband of 10 years, Dr. Martin Gray, died in 1970. Her husband of 17 years, Michael Raymond, died in 1993.

Survivors include a daughter from her first marriage, Ann P. Markelson of Manhattan; two sons from her second marriage, James Pressman and film producer Edward R. Pressman, both of Manhattan; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Raymond was steadfast in her belief that the company abstain from creating war games, such as toy guns, even though such items were popular among boys.

"I have a daughter, two sons and two grandchildren, and I despise war," she told the New York Times in 1965. "Under no circumstances will I ever knowingly manufacture a bayonet, a hand grenade or any other dreadful weapons that can destroy life as playthings for children." The company, according to her son Jim, follows this philosophy today.

Also in 1965, she created a line called Pen Pal Dolls, which were tiny reproductions of Walt Disney's "Small World of Dolls," representing 20 countries. The dolls, which were approved by UNICEF, each came with the address to a pen pal in another country, a fountain pen, stationery and an international dictionary.

Mrs. Raymond was well-regarded for her fashion sense and known for wearing designer hats. Her son said that if she had a dress made, she would save the excess fabric for a matching hat.

"A spectacular hat -- and I must admit I go in for them -- can combine with a less distinguished dress to make you look wonderful," She told the Associated Press in 1963. "No dress can do that well by a so-so hat."

In 2006, while sitting on a beach chair outside her Upper East Side apartment, a photographer asked her to appear in an ad for contemporary designer Juicy Couture. She wore a yellow dress and purple wig.

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