Septuplets' family agrees to licensing deal
USA Today (Page A2)

May 11, 1986

WESTFIELD, Mich. — The parents of the world's only septuplets agreed yesterday to deals that will allow two companies to produce merchandise using their daughters' images.

Peter and Robin Carlson signed an agreement with the Sweet Childhood Doll Company that will license the company to produce a line of dolls representing the identical Carlson septuplets, and with a group called Supertwin Family Outreach to create a poster and a 1987 calendar and featuring photographs of the children.

"Our customers have a real fascination with these little girls. We expect the Carlson Septuplet dolls to be incredibly popular, and will have them available in our mail-order catalog in time for holiday shopping season," said Betty LaMott, a represenatative for the Sweet Childhood Doll Company.

News of the agreement has already prompted some criticism of the parents.

"They said back when they were born that they were going to try to protect their children from being exploited," says Jan Montmorency of Lincoln, Nebraska. Montmorency, a mother of six, including five-year-old quadruplets, has followed the progress of the septuplets since their birth in 1982. "It must be tempting to make money off your kids if you can, but is that really what's best for them?"

"It's very easy for strangers to criticise the family," said Susan Nole, sister of the septuplets' mother. "They can say what they think would do if they were in this situation, but the reality is, they aren't the ones who have to raise these girls. Food, clothing, and education for seven children do not come cheap."

Peter Carlson said the family has received other offers, including a luctrative one for a television cartoon featuring the septuplets as high schoolers and a job modeling children's clothing that would have provided them all the clothes they need as long as they continue producing ads. He said they turned them down because the deals would likely have "a horrible and lasting impact" on the girls' self-image. "We don't want them to grow up as fashion models or cartoon characters," said Carlson. "We only want to be able to buy them new shoes when their toes break through their old ones."

Carlson said he and his wife chose to work with Supertwin Family Outreach because the company is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families with multiple births. He said that ever since news that the septuplets are identical broke in 1983, the family has been overwhelmed by picture requests. He added that the family hopes Supertwin Family Outreach can use this public interest to help other families as well as his own, while also limiting the septuplets' exposure. 50 percent of the proceeds from the calendars and posters will go to help other multiple birth families.

Carlson declined to comment on the possibility of future deals.

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