BARBIE’S BEGINNING

1st Issue Barbie 1959 1st Issue Barbie 1959 German Bild Lilly 1957

The Year: 1959

The Place: The New York Toy Show.

The Barbie Doll Debut……….

And the rest is History.

The Creators:

This story takes place in the 1930’s. It’s a story that starts out sounding like one we’ve all heard before.

A young girl meets a boy and they fall in love. The girl graduates from high school. She has visions of a great career success in the real world and wants to go to college. Her parents are not overly enthusiastic about college since it is more traditional for a girl to get married and raise a family. The girl goes to college anyway and marries the boy too. This married girl and boy are Ruth and Elliot Handler. They raise two children, Barbie and Ken.

In the mid 1940’s, the young ambitious duo Ruth and Elliot Handler, owned a company that made wooden picture frames. Elliot and his partner Harold Mattson built the samples and Ruth was in charge of marketing them. Elliot began to use the scraps of wood from picture frames to make doll furniture. This was the beginning of their toy business. It was in 1945 that Ruth and Elliot Handler joined with their close friend Harold Mattson to form a company that would be known for the most famous and successful doll ever created. This company would be named Mattel, MATT for Mattson, and EL for Elliot. Mattel continued to grow from a very profitable business into a corporate giant.

In the mid 1950’s, while visiting Switzerland, Ruth Handler purchased a German Lilli doll. Lilli was a shapely, pretty fashion doll first made in 1955. She was originally fashioned after a famous cartoon character in the West German Newsletter, Bild. Lilli was made of hard plastic with molded on shoes and earrings. She was available in 11 " or 7" in heights. Her hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. There was a large wardrobe available for this doll. Lilli is the doll that would inspire Ruth Handler to design the Barbie doll.

Ruth knew what she wanted Barbie to look like. With the help of her technicians and engineers at Mattel, Barbie was born. Ruth then hired Charlotte Johnson, a fashion designer, to create Barbies wardrobe.

It was in 1958 that the patent for Barbie was obtained. This would be a fashion doll unlike any of her time. She would be long limbed, shapely and beautiful, all of this and only 11 " tall.

Paper fashion dolls of the times would give way to a three dimensional beauty with a wardrobe of unsurpassed quality. Ruth and Elliot would name their new fashion doll after their own daughter, Barbie. Barbie dolls’ soon to be boyfriend Ken, would be named after their son Ken.

In March of 1959, Barbie doll would make her way to the New York Toy Show and receive a cool reception from the toy buyers. She would be viewed as risky to buyers since she was not the typical style selling baby doll of the times. Upon seeing Barbie on store shelves, the public decided differently. By 1960, the mood would change and the orders started pouring in to Mattel. It took several years for Mattel to catch up with the demand for Barbie. Within ten years, the public purchased $500 million worth of Barbie products.

Barbie has undergone a lot of changes over the years and has managed to keep up with current trends in hairstyles, makeup and clothing. She is a reflection of the history of fashion since her introduction to the toy market. Barbie has a universal appeal and collectors of all ages enjoy time spent and memories made with their dolls.

 

THE BARBIE FAMILY TREE

The immediate family prior to 1992: BARBIE, SKIPPER(Sister), TUTTI & TODD(twin sister & brother)

The immediate family after 1992: BARBIE, SKIPPER(sister), STACIE & TODD(twin sister & brother), KELLY(baby sister)

Following is a list of the dolls made during various time periods. Following each name is the years of production and then the relationship of each doll to Barbie.

1959-1965 THE EARLY YEARS

BARBIE 1959-present

KEN 1961-present, Barbie’s boyfriend

MIDGE 1963-66, Barbie’s friend

ALLAN 1964-65, Ken’s friend

SKIPPER 1964-present, Barbie’s sister

SKOOTER 1965-66, Skipper’s friend

RICKY 1965, Skipper’s friend

 

1965-1970 THE MOD ERA

TUTTI 1966-69, Barbie’s baby sister, Tutti & Todd are twins

TODD 1966-67, Barbie’s baby brother

FRANCIE 1966-76, Barbie’s modern cousin

CHRIS 1967, Tutti’s friend

CASEY 1967 & 1974 Francie’s friend

CHRISTIE 1968-present, Barbie’s friend

STACEY 1968-70, Barbie’s friend

PJ 1969-1985, Barbie’s friend

BRAD 1970, Ken’s friend

JAMIE 1970-72, Barbie’s friend

 

1971-1976 THE MALIBU ERA

FLUFF 1971, Skipper’s friend

TIFF 1972, Skipper’s friend

STEFFI 1972, Barbie’s friend

KELLEY 1973-74, Barbie’s friend

CARA 1975-76, Barbie’s friend

CURTIS 1976, Ken’s friend

GINGER 1976, Skipper’s friend

 

THE 1980’S SUPERSTAR, DISCO, ROCK ERA

SCOTT 1980, Skipper’s friend

TRACY 1983 Bride Doll

TODD 1983 Groom Doll

DANA 1986-87 Barbie’s friend

DEE DEE 1986-87 Barbie’s friend

DEREK 1986-87 Ken’s friend

DIVA 1986-87 Barbie’s friend

MIKO 1986-89 Barbie’s friend

WHITNEY 1987-1989 Barbie’s friend

MIDGE 1988-present, Barbie’s friend

BECKY 1988 Barbie’s friend

BELINDA 1988 Barbie’s friend

BOPSY 1988 Barbie’s friend

STEVEN 1988-present, Ken’s friend

TERESA 1988-present, Barbie’s friend

DEVON 1989, Barbie’s friend

JAZZIE 1989-1993, Barbie’s cousin

CHELSIE 1989, Jazzie’s friend

DUDE 1989, Jazzie’s friend

STACIE 1989, Jazzie’s friend

COURTNEY 1989-present, Skipper’s friend

KAYLA 1989 & 1994, Barbie’s friend

NIKKI 1989, Barbie’s friend

 

THE 90’S NEW FAMILY LITTLE KIDS

STACIE 1992-present, Barbie’s new sister

TODD 1991, 1993-1994, Barbie’s new brother, twin to Stacie

KELLY 1995, Barbie’s new baby sister

JANET 1994, Stacie’s friend

WHITNEY 1994, Stacie’s friend

BECKY 1996-present, Kelly’s friend

CHELSIE 1996-present, Kelly’s friend

MELODY 1996-present, Kelly’s friend

DEIDRE 1997-present, Kelly’s friend

JENNY 1997-present, Kelly’s friend

MARISSA 1997-present, Kelly’s friend

TOMMY 1997-present, Kelly’s friend

 

THE 90’S FRIENDS ADULTS

KIRA 1990, Barbie’s friend

NIA 1990, Barbie’s friend

KEVIN 1990-95, Skipper’s friend

ALAN 1991, Ken’s friend

SHANI 1991-94, Barbie’s friend

ASHA 1991-1993, Shani’s friend

NICHELLE 1991-93, Shani’s friend

JAMAL 1992-1993, Shani’s boyfriend

TARA LYNN 1993, Barbie’s friend

BECKY 1997-present, Barbie’s friend

NIKKI 1997, Skipper’s friend