The first Teddy Bear was the brain child of Morris Michtom who was inspired by the political cartoon above. The cartoon was drawn by Clifford K. Berryman and called “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” where President Theodore Roosevelt is depicted showing compassion for a small bear cub. Michtom liked the cartoon and showed it to his wife, Rose. Rose went to create the teddy bear. On February 15, 1903 the Russian Jewish immigrant placed the little teddy bear in his shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue, New York.
It was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it is currently on display. After the creation of the bear in late 1902, the sale of the bears was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. Through many mergers the company was eventually part of Mattel.
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.
Historyonair.com is the online home of the History Podcast. You can find history related articles, video, and audio files here. You can contact the author of this blog and its content at firstname.lastname@example.org.