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The Daily Need

Photo: Hello, dollface

Barbie in the 1960s. Photo: Flickr/Tinker*Tailor loves Lalka

On this day 52 years ago, an 11-inch, blond doll named Barbara Millicent Roberts made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Created by Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Inc., she was the first doll with adult features to be mass-produced in the United States. The doll was named after Handler’s daughter, Barbara, but the world knows her as Barbie.

In her original fictional biography published in the 1960s, she hailed from Wisconsin and attended high school there, but in a bit of revisionist history in 1999, she suddenly attended the fictional Manhattan International High School. Perhaps this is where the idea of “Totally Stylin’ Tattoos Barbie” came from in 2009.

Common criticisms of Barbie’s unrealistic proportions (estimated at a 36-inch chest, 18-inch waist and 33-inch hips) haven’t curbed sales. Since her introduction, more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie line have been sold around the world. As a personal observation, I have yet to see a Barbie who did not meet her inevitable end at the hands of a creative teenager armed with scissors, a lighter and a Sharpie.

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  • Pennypotions

    I had an original Barbie and never cut off her hair. I played with her, my daughter played with her, my nieces played with her and in 1993, I sold her to a collector for $3500.

  • Ann Ryan

    We need to set the record straight, Jack Ryan was the inventor of Barbie. Ruth never made that claim until after Jack’s death in 1991. I know, I’m Jack’s daughter and I was around when all this happened.

  • Juno

    Ruth Handler got her inspiration for Barbie while she was in Germany on vacation where she saw the tiny Bild Lilli doll. I possess one and can say without hesitation that Barbie is a larger version of the Bild Lilli.

  • Vanessa Castillo

    Oh how I miss my barbies…and I had the pink cadillac convertible! Those were the days!

  • Juno

    Here’s a Bild Lilli website

  • Beverly Sarchet

    I share a birth date with Barbie (although I am five days older), mine is…March 3, 1959 :)

  • Genuinething

    Well, how bizarre is that!! I own several barbies with Ruth’s autograph on the back, and she did that well before 1991 !!

    Some people … thank GOD the history of Barbie is documented so folks like this one cannot smear the name of those truly involved in creating Barbie. Yeesch.

  • Ann Ryan

    Check the U.S. Patent office.