September 22, 1909: Dolly Dimples Eludes Duluthians

On this day in Duluth in 1909, Miss Dolly Dimples, who had eluded capture by citizens throughout the nation, kept herself hidden in Duluth despite announcing where she would be. What was Dimples wanted for? Two hundred dollars worth of gold. “Dolly Dimples” was the pseudonym of a woman hired by the American Traveller car company as part of a promotional gimmick pulled off in conjunction with the Duluth News Tribune and other newspapers throughout the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City. Photos of Dimples always showed her next to or in her brand new 1910 American Traveller “Franklin” convertible. The prize was to go to the first person who could spot Dimples—usually disguised but in a location announced in the previous day’s newspaper—approach her, and precisely state—precisely—“Pardon me, are you the mysterious Dolly Dimples of the Duluth News Tribune?” On September 22 Dimples stood on the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street and watched “hundreds of eager searchers” walk by without giving her a glance. Each day the newspaper announced where Dimples would be and provided clues to her appearance, such as her height and shoe size. She was “caught” by Mrs. Charles Mattson on October 2. (“Dolly Dimples” was also the stage name of America’s most popular “Fat Lady.”)

“Dolly Dimples” poses next to a 1909 American Traveler car in a promotional photo for the auto maker’s Dolly Dimples contest. (Image: Public Domain)