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Babie Doll History

Updated on May 29, 2010

Who Created Barbie?

Short answer: her parents. Ruth and Elliot Handler created a doll after their duaghter Barbara. What sparked Ruth's idea was her observation of the way Barbara and her girlfriends played together with paper dolls. They didn't make the dolls do children things or play games or take naps. Instead, the girls seemed to make the dolls do adult activities... not those adult activities only. Mostly the things they saw their parents doing. Stuff like going to the mall shopping, eating at the restaurant, going to the movies and other fun places, especially on dates with the opposite sex. The girls loved to pretend to be adults. They loved making adult choices and dealing with adult consequences, in a fun, harmless way. 

The problem was that the dolls available were babies. Children would carry around baby dolls, feeding them bottles and whatnot. The only adult dolls you could find in those days were made out of paper. Ruth wanted to make an adult doll that children could carry around. With adult dolls, they could be more creative and do more interesting things, and perhaps learn something about life... and shopping, and parenting, and dating.

She had trouble making a prototype of the doll and couldn't really get any doll maker interested in her abstract idea. The breakthrough came when she was on a trip in Germany and found a mature doll named Lillie. Lillie was the subject of a popular comic strip in Germany. Ruth copied and improved on the design of the doll to get it closer to her vision. She then hired a professional designer to make clothes for her new creation.

Ruth made a deal with Mattel and produced a bunch of dolls. Naming her doll "Barbie" after her daughter Barbara, she brought the toy to the American Toy Fair in New York in 1959. Sales were incredible from the very start. They sold over 350,000 Barbies in the first year alone! The doll came with a purse, a zebra swimsuit and little girls loved the doll. Who cares if the critics weren't very impressed?


The Real Barbie

Barbara Roberts is the name of the real Barbie. The daughter of George and Margaret Roberts, Barbara grew up in the 1940s and 1950. Folklore has overtaken Barbara's life story. Stories have been made up surrounding Barbie. Apparently she grew up in Wisconsin, in a ficticious town named Willows. Then Barbie went to high school in New York City of course, Because New York is a much sexier city for Barbie to flaunt her stuff in. Who will be there to "ooo" and "ahhhh" Barbie when she walks the red carpet in Willow Wisconsin?

The Ken Barbie Doll came into the picture after a couple of years. This is the name of Barbara Roberts real husband, named Ken Carson. They actually caused a major uproar in 2004 when they split up. Public outburst got to them and they appeased the public by getting back together two years later.

Mattel also created some other real life characters into dolls to accompany Barbie. This way, Barbie wouldn't be playing with mere strangers, but real people from the real life of Babara.

How old were you when you quit playing Barbies?

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Fun New Friends and Accessories for Barbie

 Barbie was born in 1959, but she couldn't be left all alone for long. Ken came along right after Barbie, as if God found her the proper helpmeet to free her up from some domestic duties, days at the beach with Barbie, and, of course, those fabulously fun dates Barbie had planned so thouroughly.

Midge, Skipper, and Christie became Barbie's first friends in the early 1960s. Christie was the first African American friend of Barbies in 1968 and this started a colorful trend in Barbies friendships she formed in the coming years. Mattel went after pleasing the disabled community in 1997 and released their wheelchair-laden Make-Me-Smile Becky, for Barbie to feel sorry and do things for. Barbie's little baby sister Kelly wasn't born, however, until the 1990s. How old must Barbie's mother have been? Why not just make Kelly Babie's daughter? Well, in any case, that is exactly what girls around the planet did as soon as Kelly was realeased.

Barbie's accessories, beyond the basic fashionable clothes, corresponded with her occupational styles. She went from doctor to policewoman to astranaut to athlete. And each of these came with their own clothing styles and accessories to play around with. 

Barbie Timeline

 Access the Barbie Timeline and you can see how the doll has evolved on a time basis. Do some research and get inspired to play with Barbie for yet another generation.

Watch Barbie Getting Married!


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