- Historical date:
- 9. March 1959
- Matell company unveiled its first Barbie doll. Interestingly, it was available as a brunette and as a blonde. She wore a provocative striped swimsuit and a sideways glance to the right (this was later changed into a forward look).
This day is considered the official birthday of Barbie dolls, because on that day in 1959 it was presented to the world for the first time at the American International Toy Fair in New York.
The idea for the Barbie doll came to Ruth Handler, wife of the co-founder of the large Mattel corporation. Namely, she noticed that her daughter Barbara often assigned adult roles to her dolls. At the time (1950s), almost all children’s toy dolls were representations of infants. Ruth Handler had the idea that it would be nice to create a doll that looked like an adult.
During a visit to Germany, Ruth Handler encountered a doll “Bild Lilli” which was already being produced for several years, and represented a young adult woman with alluring curves. The “Bild Lilli” doll was actually intended for adults, not children, and was based on a character appearing in a comic strip in the famous German magazine Bild. Ruth Handler purchased three of them and concluded that something like that could be produced for children.
“Bild Lilli” was actually, according to the comic, the girl of a rather free morals, especially in terms of sexuality. She was blonde and used her appearance to get what she wanted, especially with men. Ruth Handler showed the doll to her husband Elliot Handler, and he accepted the idea as well as the rest of the people from his Matell company (the name Matell was derived from the names of the co-founders – Matt Matson and Elliott Handler).
On this day Matell company unveiled its first Barbie doll. She was named Barbie after Ruth’s daughter, Barbara (Ken was named after Ruth’s son, Ken). Interestingly, the first Barbie was available as a brunette and as a blonde. She wore a provocative striped swimsuit and a sideways glance to the right (this was later changed into a forward look).