Barbie Dolls – Where Did They Come From?

Barbie Dolls– Where Did They Originate from?

Dear Santa, Please can I have a Barbie doll for Christmas?

Barbie dolls have actually probably been on Christmas wish lists for numerous generations of women. In reality Barbie has become a family name for several years. Who produced the first concept of the Barbie doll?

The story began with the birth of Ruth Mosko in Denver Colarado in 1916. Ruth wed Elliot Handler in 1938. Elliot Handler and his business partner Harold ‘Matt” Matson formed the business Mattel. The name was created by a combination of their names ‘Matt-Ell”. Mattel originally produced photo frames, but after making dolls furnishings from scraps decided to focus on toy manufacturing for which Mattel is now famous.

Ruth Handler saw that her young child Barbara was more thinking about having fun with adult dolls, than the child dolls that were readily available at that time. While taking a trip in Europe she saw a German doll called ‘Lilli’ which she bought for her child. The initial ‘Lilli’ doll was not a kids’s toy, however a joke design gift for males.

Mattel purchased the marketing rights for ‘Lilli’. They changed the doll’s name to Barbie, called after Ruth’s child Barbara. Barbie was first launched for sale in the United States in 1959 and became a hot seller. Barbie’s sweetheart ‘Ken’ was presented in 1960. Ken was named after Ruth’s son Kenneth.

The Barbie doll was first shown at the New york city International American Toy Fair on March 9, 1959. This date became Barbie’s official birthday.There is now a fictional biography of the life of ‘Barbie’ with additional family and friends developed and sold as different dolls.

PB043574 SBAU meeting Nov 2016 Keri Bean JPL Dawn Mission
Source: Flickr

By Barbara White