From A Mother to A Seller of Over 1 Billion Barbie Dolls


Since Handler`s creation of `Barbie`, named for her daughter Barbara, was introduced in 1959, it has become an American icon and a touchstone of cultural politics. The original blue-eyed, blond fashion model has morphed over the decades into a variety of ethnic looks and has had many careers, from astronaut to veterinarian. More than 1 billion Barbie dolls have been sold in 150 countries. `My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be,` Handler wrote in a 1994 autobiography. `Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.` `Over and over, I`ve had it said to me by women,` Handler told The Associated Press in 1994. `She was much more than a doll for them. She was part of them.` Barbie`s birth came at a time when the usual doll was a baby. Handler decided to create a more mature toy after noticing that her daughter liked to play with paper cutout dolls of teenagers and career women. When the doll was introduced at the 1959 Toy Fair in New York City, retailers had never before seen a doll so completely unlike the baby and toddler dolls that were popular at the time, and many refused to carry it. Undaunted, Handler went directly to young girls with television ads that presented Barbie as a real person. Thanks to this innovative marketing approach, within three months of her debut, Barbie dolls were selling at a rate of 20,000 per week. Demand for the doll was so great that it took several years for the supply to keep up with the demand. Barbie was so successful that she enabled Mattel to go public in 1960, and within five years, Mattel would join the ranks of the Fortune 500. Barbie went on to make a fortune for Mattel, which sold not only versions of the doll but an expanding number of outfits and accessories, not to mention Barbie`s boyfriend Ken, named for Handler`s son; her little sister, Skipper, and pals Midge and Christie. Later dolls were named for Handler`s grandchildren. Handler was born Ruth Mosko, the youngest of 10 children of Polish immigrants who settled in Denver. She moved to Southern California at 19, later marrying her high school boyfriend and studying industrial design.

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