The company Mattel was founded in 1945 by Elliot Handler and Harold “Matt” Matson. The company name was a combination of the too names Matt and El from Elliot. Which of course is Mattel. Before Mattel was Mattel, it was a small picture frame shop, that Harold and his wife Ruth Handler owned. They started to create toy furniture in the 1940’s. When the toy furniture became a better seller than the picture frames, they changed the company to a toy company. In the 1950’s after Mattel had already been founded Ruth was in Switerland and happened to purchase a German doll called Lilli. Lillit was the inspiration for Barbie. Why call it Barbie? Ruth’s daughter’s name was Barbra and her son’s? One guess…yep, Kenneth. So, there you have the history of the names at least.
Happy Birthday Barbie!
Barbie (the doll) was first shown at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. This date is also the date of Barbie’s birthday. Making her 52 years old today! And she still looks great. There were 350,000 Barbie dolls sold in that first year. Barbie even has a full fictional biography in case you were wondering her full name is, Barbra Millicent Roberts. Her parent’s names are George and Margret and she lives in Willows, Wisconsin (not a real place).
Barbie and Ken
She has had an on-again-off-again relationship with her boyfriend Ken Carson, who she met in 1961. On Valentine’s Day 2004, the couple broke it off, but recently they got back together. Mattel staged a huge transmedia campaign at barbieandken.com.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us
- Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll
- Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her
- Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel
- The Barbie Family Tree