Return to Homepage
... Dedicated to the TV Addict in All of Us

   The place to be....for the Characters, Places & Things on Television

What's New at TV Acres  
  Home > Index > PropsDolls > Barbie Doll  

The Original Barbie DollBarbie Doll - Inspired by a sexy German doll named Bild Lilli (manufactured in rigid plastic for adults in 1955 by the Hausser Elastolin firm in Neustad Germany for 19.90 Marks), Barbie, the "Teenage Fashion Model" was introduced by Mattel Toy Corporation in 1959 at the New York Toy Fair and immediately delighted the public, selling more than 351,000 units at $3.00 a doll. (to date 250 million units sold worldwide).

Barbie is a miniature version of a young woman (11 & 1/2 inches), complete with breasts. Drawn to full scale her proportions would be 39-21-33 (D cup).

By 1964 Barbie had bendable knees. In 1967 she got a "twist & turn waist." Freckled-face Midge joined Barbie in 1963. Skipper her sister was introduced in 1964.

In 1968, at the height of the civil rights movement, Barbie got a new black friend with the name of Christie.

In 1980, both a black and Hispanic version of Barbie was born. (brown plastic poured into a Barbie mold).

Seen for years on countless commercials, Barbie has been depicted as a real-life fashion model with an active social life that explained the reason why she needed so many different clothing outfits.


Variations of the Barbie doll have included Dream-Glo Barbie (glows in the dark); Magic Moves Barbie (arm swishes back her hair); the 1965 Astronaut Barbie (dressed in a glittered covered outfit).

Barbie's boyfriend Ken Carson was introduced in 1961. Both Ken and Barbie were never married, but they did tour Europe together without a chaperone in a 1962 comic book.

In February 2004, after 43 years as one of the world's prettiest pairs, the perfect plastic couple, Barbie and Ken finally went their separate ways. Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, said that Barbie and Ken "feel it's time to spend some quality time — apart." They first met on the set of a commercial in 1961.

Midge, Barbie's best friend, got married in New York City on 2/14/91 to Alan who was co-owner with Ken of L.A. Swim Trunks, Inc., a beach ware company.

The Barbie and Ken dolls were named after the real children of Ruth Handler, Barbie's creator and wife of Elliot Handler, one of the executives who founded the Mattel Corporation in 1945.

Handler originally began as a doll furniture manufacturer. Much of the money made from the Barbie product comes from the clothing accessories designed by Kitty Black Perkins.

In 1986-87 to compete with Hasbro Toy's pink-haired doll named "Jem," the leader of an all-girl rock band, The Holograms, Mattel introduced the concept of Barbie and the Rockers (Derek, Dana, Dive, and Dee Dee).

A national competition was held to find human counterparts for the group. Some 60,000 contestants auditioned. (The rules required that entries be at least 5-foot, 6-inches or over and between 18-25 years of age).

As of 1988 Barbie had her own perfume fragrance created especially by her long-time beau, Ken.

In the fall of 1991, Mattel introduced a line of African-American fashion dolls. These would be the first black "realistically sculpted, non-Barbie" fashion doll to be manufactured for the mainstream. Their front-runner doll was known as Shani (Swahili for "Marvelous, startling, wonder or novelty.") Watch out Barbie, Shani's in town.

Barbie Doll Stamp

Share-a-Smile Becky Doll

1999 Barbie Stamp

"Share-a-Smile Becky"

TRIVIA NOTE: Barbie's full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. Her hometown is Willow, Wisconsin. On December 1, 1995 the Liberty Art Gallery of the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan exhibited "Art, Design and Barbie: The Evolution of a Cultural Icon." The exhibition featured works by more than 50 modern artists including Andy Warhol, John Baldessari and William Wegman.

The exhibit toured the country through 1997 and then moved to Canada and Latin America.

On the 9/12/96 monologue of THE TONIGHT SHOW Jay Leno speaking of the American Dream and Barbie said "No matter how dumb you are, if you have blonde hair and big breasts, you can drive a Corvette and live in Malibu"; and on his 5/21/97 monologue Jay commented on Mattel's first Barbie in a wheelchair doll as being "the first in a line of insurance scam Barbie's."

Also in 1997, the slightly racy lyrics of the pop song "Barbie Girl" (MCA Records) performed by the bubble-gum quartet called Aqua angered the doll's manufacturer Mattel who did not appreciate such lines as "you can brush my hair, undress me anywhere"..."kiss me here, touch me there, Hanky Panky." This was the same year that Mattel had introduced a new politically correct line of Barbie dolls with more realistic body measurements to reflect the figure of a real woman.

On the 8/28/98 installment of THE TONIGHT SHOW, Jay Leno reported that Mattel was introducing the "Country Barbie...Teeth sold separately."

On the situation comedy MARRIED...WITH CHILDREN/FOX/1987-97 Jefferson Darcy (Ted McGinley) attended an auction to buy his wife a collectible Barbie doll. When his friend Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill) heard the doll cost $2,000 he shrieked, "Two grand for a Barbie doll! A whole woman ain't worth that!" Al also commented on the life-like nature of the Ken doll saying "That's why 'married' Ken doesn't have genitals."

In April 1999, Mattel unveiled a new advertising campaign aimed at moms rather than the daughters. The Barbie ads new credo: "Be Anything."

In 2010, the Mattel toy company announced they were to create versions of Barbie and Ken dolls based on the characters Don Draper, his wife Betty, Roger Sterling and Joan Harris from the AMC Channel drama MAD MEN.

Fans interested in seeing more of Barbie can be visit The Barbie Hall of Fame c/o The Doll Studio, 325 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94301.

For an inside look on Barbie read "Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography Of A Real Doll" by M. G. Lord.

External Links


Back to Top

Home | Site Map | Search | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Archive
Copyright © TV Acres. 2000-2016 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All photos are the property of their respective companies.