Anne Rice's Dolls
Sue Quiroz likes living with Anne Rice’s mostly antique and vintage dolls.
“I remember the day Anne told me she had ordered something special that she expected to arrive shortly,” Quiroz says. “Imagine my surprise when the package arrived with the first doll to be added to her existing doll collection she had begun when she lived in San Francisco. The collection eventually grew to number well over 1,000. Soon beautiful dolls began arriving almost daily – each arrival generated excitement and awe, like repeated happy Christmas mornings.”
In the beginning, Rice only allowed Quiroz to handle the dolls while reviewing each one with loving care as the doll-filled packages kept arriving. “First we placed them in the sun room and the double parlor, and then as the collection increased, we moved new arrivals into the library and filled the top of the pool table,” she says
Quiroz was just a heartbeat away from Rice for over 15 years, covering duties that ranged from serving as her personal secretary, personal assistant, doll curator, tour guide and the Anne Rice Collection shop assistant. “It was a job I adored,” she recalls. “I even traveled as her assistant to Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence and Perugia), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Manaus), Israel (Jerusalem), and El Salvador (to visit churches in several cities). The trips were all for research that she later used in her books. It was all very exciting.
She also recalls her trips to New York with Rice and the two book tours she enjoyed (for “Memnoch the Devil” and the bus tour for “Servant of the Bones).” Along the way, Rice purchased St. Anna’s Orphanage on Napoleon Avenue and saved a special place for her dream of having a doll museum. “It was exciting to see the Anne Rice Doll Collection museum become a reality. It was amazing to see her dolls on display and remembering being with Anne when she traveled and always took time to shop for unique dolls, not to mention the countless packages I had opened to discover her new purchases for the first time.”
One of Quiroz’s responsibilities when the museum opened was to inventory and document each doll, including the purchase date and price, current Blue Book value, and any other information available, always including a photo of each doll. “I ended up with three huge binders documenting more than 1,000 dolls,” she says. “It was quite an education to learn about wax over porcelain dolls, wood and cloth dolls, glass and sleep eyes, wigs, dresses and shoes, and every piece of jewelry worn by the dolls.”
She remembers that it was a sad time when Stan, Rice’s husband, died. Then a few years later, just before Hurricane Katrina, the author announced that she was moving to California to be near Christopher, her son, who had decided to follow in her footsteps and become an author.
“I was touched when Anne gave me the dolls she wasn’t moving with her to California. I photographed each doll making the trip, packed them securely and sent them off in the moving van to their new home on the West Coast. I even made a trip to her new home to unpack the dolls and place each one in special display cabinets so she could enjoy them.”
Rice encouraged Quiroz to sell some of the dolls. “I did sell a few, but today there are still literally hundreds left,” she says. “In addition to my favorite ones that I keep near me in my Lakeview home, I also have a storage unit chock-a-block full of the dolls.”
Quiroz raises her hand when asked who is Rice’s biggest fan. “I believe I am,” she answers. “I helped organize the first fan club – the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club, and I started the first Anne Rice Halloween Ball in 2002 with my own money to hire bands. Today, the Vampire Lestat Fan Club has more than 1,000 members, not to mention that I started the Undead Con in 2010 where we bring in well-known authors to be on panels to discuss their books and tell how they got started writing and what process they went through to get their books published. We hold our opening Thursday event in St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Anne’s church when she was growing up and later when she moved back to New Orleans, where we meet and greet, hold a question and answer session, and have a raffle of donated books and a silent auction with all proceeds going to the church for much needed renovations.”
While Anne Rice and her dolls live on in Quiroz’s heart, a few of the dolls actually sleep with her in her bed.