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Barbie Turns 53

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Barbie turns 53 today.  It was back in 1959, the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

Eleven inches tall with blond hair – it was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. Ruth Handler founded Mattel Toys with her husband in 1945 and she was the driving force behind Barbie after she watched her own daughter ignore her baby dolls to play make-believe with paper dolls of
adult women.

Barbie’s looks were actually modeled after Lilli, a German comic strip character and Handler named their doll after her own daughter, Barbara and they advertised it on the “Mickey Mouse Club”.  Barbie got to be so popular, Mattel made a boyfriend for Barbie.  Ken came out in 1961…named after the Handler’s son.  Barbie’s best friend, Midge, came out in 1963; her little sister, Skipper, debuted the following year.

Over the years, Barbie has had a series of different jobs, from airline stewardess, doctor, pilot and astronaut
to Olympic athlete and even U.S. presidential candidate. It was Barbie’s appearance that caused the most
controversy.  With a tiny waist and enormous breasts–it was estimated that if she were a real woman, her
measurements would be 36-18-38.

Barbie sales are estimated at a billion dollars annually. Since 1959, more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world.

GOT ALL THAT? Great! Take our Barbie Quiz!

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