On March 9th, 1959, the first Barbie Doll debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City.
Ruth Handler believed that creating a doll that represented an adult rather than an infant would appeal to children’s imagination in a new way. Ruth named the doll Barbie, after her daughter Barbara, and modeled it after a German doll Lilli, who was based in a comic strip. Ruth took the look of Lilli, and revamped her with a more American style. It wasn’t until 1964 that Ruth’s husband Elliot, who was a co-founder of The Mattel Toy Company, purchased the rights to Lilli.
Barbie became the first widespread American doll with adult features. The Mattel Toy Company utilized its sponsorship with the television program “Mickey Mouse Club” to air commercials aimed at children. By the early 1960s, the demand for Barbie, and her male counterpart Ken (introduced in 1961) had exploded. Barbie dolls remain one of the most popular doll brands internationally.
For more on Barbie, visit the brand new Doll Room at The PAST Antiques Marketplace on Route 85 in Montville, Conencticut and experience a large collection of vintage Barbie Dolls in their original packaging.
Check back next week for another Trivia Tuesday!