Yup! The Barbie Doll turns 52 today!
Barbie debuted on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair. She was marketed as a “Teen Age Fashion Doll”.
The original Barbies wore a Zebra striped black and white swim suit, and came with either blonde or brunette hair.
Little girls, and some little boys, could have their choice of a white Barbie or a different white Barbie.
Ruth Handler, no realtion to Chelsea, named the doll and later on the eunuch companion boy doll after her children, Barbara and Ken.
She got the idea while watching her daughter play with her baby dolls; giving them adult roles.
“You do the dishes!” “No, you do the dishes!” “You’re mother’s crazy!” “Why do you drink all the time?” Stuff like that.
While in Germany, Ruth saw a German doll named Bild Lilli. Bild Lilli was based on a German cartoon and sold to adults. But, the German kids liked to dress the doll UP in the many outfits and costumes which were sold seperatly.
Ruth bought three.
She’d already pimped the adult doll idea to her husband, Elliot a co-founder of Mattel Toy Company. He and the boys at Mattel were less than impressed with the idea. But, when Ruth dashed hom from Germany, three dolls in tow, the boys listened UP.
The rest is history.
Barbie, all alone at the time, was one of the first toys to have a marketing stragegy based soley on television advertising.
The first dolls were made in Japan, as were their outfits, which were hand stitched.
350,000 were sold in the first year.
A few years later, in 1964 or so, Mattel bought the company that made Bild Lilli and stopped production.
Jack Ryan, who was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor, helped Ruth “re-design” the German Bild Lilli. He also created Chatty Cathy.
Apparently Zsa Zsa was talkative as well as stacked!
Many parents were UPset that Barbie had definative breasts.
Ah, the 50s!
Three Barbies are sold every three seconds.
Placed head to toe, every Barbie doll sold would circle the Earth seven times.
Barbie didn’t go to college until 1964 and she didn’t join the army until 1992.
Barbie didn’t go black or hispanic until 1980.
The best selling Barbie is Totally Hair Barbie – she has hair that reaches the ground.
Barbie has had over 120 friends and realtives over the years. You know, Midge, Skipper, Snooki – ok, not Snooki!
Barbie got a belly button in 2000.
Ken, well, Ken’s still Ken!
An original Barbie in “mint” condition would sell for $10,000 to a serious collectors.
I’ll wait while you run to the attic.