The Year: 1959
The Place: The New York Toy Show.
The Barbie Doll Debut .
And the rest is History.
This story takes place in the 1930s. Its a story that starts out sounding like one weve 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 1940s, 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 1950s, 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 ½" 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 ½" 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
KEN 1961-present, Barbies boyfriend
MIDGE 1963-66, Barbies friend
ALLAN 1964-65, Kens friend
SKIPPER 1964-present, Barbies sister
SKOOTER 1965-66, Skippers friend
RICKY 1965, Skippers friend
1965-1970 THE MOD ERA
TUTTI 1966-69, Barbies baby sister, Tutti & Todd are twins
TODD 1966-67, Barbies baby brother
FRANCIE 1966-76, Barbies modern cousin
CHRIS 1967, Tuttis friend
CASEY 1967 & 1974 Francies friend
CHRISTIE 1968-present, Barbies friend
STACEY 1968-70, Barbies friend
PJ 1969-1985, Barbies friend
BRAD 1970, Kens friend
JAMIE 1970-72, Barbies friend
1971-1976 THE MALIBU ERA
FLUFF 1971, Skippers friend
TIFF 1972, Skippers friend
STEFFI 1972, Barbies friend
KELLEY 1973-74, Barbies friend
CARA 1975-76, Barbies friend
CURTIS 1976, Kens friend
GINGER 1976, Skippers friend
THE 1980S SUPERSTAR, DISCO, ROCK ERA
SCOTT 1980, Skippers friend
TRACY 1983 Bride Doll
TODD 1983 Groom Doll
DANA 1986-87 Barbies friend
DEE DEE 1986-87 Barbies friend
DEREK 1986-87 Kens friend
DIVA 1986-87 Barbies friend
MIKO 1986-89 Barbies friend
WHITNEY 1987-1989 Barbies friend
MIDGE 1988-present, Barbies friend
BECKY 1988 Barbies friend
BELINDA 1988 Barbies friend
BOPSY 1988 Barbies friend
STEVEN 1988-present, Kens friend
TERESA 1988-present, Barbies friend
DEVON 1989, Barbies friend
JAZZIE 1989-1993, Barbies cousin
CHELSIE 1989, Jazzies friend
DUDE 1989, Jazzies friend
STACIE 1989, Jazzies friend
COURTNEY 1989-present, Skippers friend
KAYLA 1989 & 1994, Barbies friend
NIKKI 1989, Barbies friend
THE 90S NEW FAMILY LITTLE KIDS
STACIE 1992-present, Barbies new sister
TODD 1991, 1993-1994, Barbies new brother, twin to Stacie
KELLY 1995, Barbies new baby sister
JANET 1994, Stacies friend
WHITNEY 1994, Stacies friend
BECKY 1996-present, Kellys friend
CHELSIE 1996-present, Kellys friend
MELODY 1996-present, Kellys friend
DEIDRE 1997-present, Kellys friend
JENNY 1997-present, Kellys friend
MARISSA 1997-present, Kellys friend
TOMMY 1997-present, Kellys friend
THE 90S FRIENDS ADULTS
KIRA 1990, Barbies friend
NIA 1990, Barbies friend
KEVIN 1990-95, Skippers friend
ALAN 1991, Kens friend
SHANI 1991-94, Barbies friend
ASHA 1991-1993, Shanis friend
NICHELLE 1991-93, Shanis friend
JAMAL 1992-1993, Shanis boyfriend
TARA LYNN 1993, Barbies friend
BECKY 1997-present, Barbies friend
NIKKI 1997, Skippers friend