Artist & Toymaker Aldice Dinsdale changes the Life of daughter Shirley Dinsdale

by Laurie Thompson

Shirley Dinsdale with “Judy Splinters,” created by her father Aldice Dinsdale, in conversation with “Howdy Doody.” Illus. from “Judy Splinters — and Shirley,” Radio and Television Mirror, July 1949.

A recent donation from Marin philanthropist Jeff has led me to the interesting -& heartwarming- story of artist Dinsdale and his daughter, Shirley Dinsdale Layburn.

On the eve of the recent shelter-in-place order, I took a closer look at Jeff’s donation of two large and intricate blu e-print drawings of workers engaged in projects at during World War II . They both bore the signature “Al Dinsdale” and struck me as the work of someone very accomplished .

The May 4, 1923 Woodland Democrat comments: “ O. Dinsdale…of this city, is “carving out” a career for himself as a caricaturist, his sketches having appeared frequently of late in San Francisco papers and art magazines. One of his latest accomplishments is a reproduction of the California theatre, featuring Ben Black’s orchestra. The miniature figures are hand-carved from wood and made in caricature.”

Not surprisingly, the nuptials, one month later, were held at Dinsdale’s Shop & Studio and were uniquely bohemian and theatrical. sue characterized the wedding as a “Fairy Tale Romance” The Oxnard Press and also described the costumes of some of the wedding party who were dressed as “ ‘s July 9, 1924 is “ toys. “Five tiny tots dressed like the Dick advanced in solemn procession, followed by the bride in a batik fro ck decorated with a border of the funny little toys. Mrs. Harry Dixon was the bridesmaid, clad in a flaming artist’s smock. A smock with the same decorative motif as the bride’s was the costume of Dinsdale and Harry Dixon, his groomsman , was garbed in the leather apron he wears in his metal craft shop.”

Originally published at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room

The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library