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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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).
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.
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
On the 8/28/98 installment of THE TONIGHT SHOW,
Jay Leno reported that Mattel was introducing
the "Country Barbie...Teeth sold separately."
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."
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,
For an inside look on Barbie
read "Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography
Of A Real Doll" by M. G. Lord.
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