Ruth Handler was the woman who came up with the idea of Barbie after watching her daughter play with paper dolls. She noticed she gave the dolls adult roles. At the time, dolls were styled as infants. There weren't any adult dolls for little girls to play with. Ruth suggested the idea to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company but at that time, he was not enthusiastic about the idea.
Ruth came across a German toy doll called Bild Lilli in 1956 when she was on a trip to Europe with her children. The doll, adult figure, was the type of doll she had in mind so she purchased three of them. One was for her daughter and the others she took back to Mattel. The Lilli doll was a "blonde bombshell, a working girl who knew what she wanted and was not above using men to get it." The doll first sold in Germany in 1955 and even though it was sold to adults, it became popular with children. They enjoyed dressing her up.
When Ruth returned to Mattel, she reworked the design with help from engineer Jack Ryan. They named the new doll Barbie after Ruth's daughter, Barbara. The doll made its debut March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York.
The first Barbie was sold with a zebra stripe bathing suit and was available as either a blonde or a brunette and they had a topknot ponytail. Charlotte Johnson, a Mattel fashion designer, designed Barbie's clothes. The dolls and clothes were first produced in Japan.
The doll was marketed as a "Teen-age Fashion Model" and underwent many changes over the years with the most notable change in 1971 when the doll's eyes were adjusted to look ahead instead of the demure sideways glance.
I remember the Barbie doll after it came out. I had to be about 10 at the time. The doll I had was a brunette with short fluffy hair. Even though I was a little older, I played with her for several years even trying to make new fashions for her. I wish I had held on to her! I really haven't seen a doll like her since.
The closest I came was this little beauty from Pwittsstuff.
Her hair is a touch longer than the doll I had but she really resembles my Barbie. The eyes, of course, look straight ahead instead of to the side.
Barbie is still a wonderful doll for little girls to dream with and for grown women to collect!
Here at OLA.com, we have a lot of different Barbie dolls, Ken dolls and more!
So, whether you are looking for the fashion doll for your daughter or enjoy collecting these beauties, check out OLA.com! We have a lot to choose from!
And if this isn't what you are looking for, check out our store, KornKountryTreasures!