Monday, July 25, 2016
Ruth Handler, Inventor of the Barbie Doll
Colfax Avenue's East High School graduate Ruth Handler had noted that her daughter Barbara, who was becoming a pre-teen, preferred playing with her infant paper dolls and giving them adult roles. She wanted to produce a plastic doll with an adult body but her husband thought it wouldn't sell. But when the Handlers were on a European trip, Ruth Handler saw the German Bild Lilli doll (which was not meant for children at all; rather a gag gift for adults) in a Swiss shop and bought it. Back home she reworked the design of the doll and re-named her Barbie after her daughter. Barbie debuted at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959. Barbie became an instant success, rocketing the Handlers and their toy company toward fame. Later, they would add a boyfriend for Barbie named Ken, after Handler's son as well any many more other "friends and family" for Barbie's world.