Through computer animation, Barbie has become the star of several feature films, including “Barbie in the Nutcracker,” “Barbie as Rapunzel,” “Barbie of Swan Lake” and “Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.” And she has staked her claim on the Web with the popular Make Up Barbie Game, which allows girls to alter her hair, makeup and overall look.
In the late 1990s, computer technology boomed, and in 1996, Mattel launched www.barbie.com, the official Barbie website. In 1998, “My Design” was introduced on the site, allowing girls and collectors to decide what...
Barbie has younger sisters (Skipper, Stacie, Kelly, Krissy, the short-lived twins, Tutti and Todd), cousins (Francie and Jazzie), friends (Midge, Miko, Whitney, Nikki, Devon, Kira, to name a few) and of course, the steadfast Ken. But her parents played a minimal — and totally off-stage — role; no parent dolls were ever produced. She is an agent on her own behalf, a singular sensation, living her own life, forging her own destiny. In all the scenarios in which she has played, the one role Barbie never took on was that of wife, even though Mattel has made numerous bridal ensembles for her....
Part of Barbie’s power is the kind of projection she invites. “I designed Barbie with a blank face so that the child could project her own dreams of the future onto Barbie,” Handler said in her book, “Dream Doll.” “I never wanted to play up the glamorous life of Barbie. I wanted the owner to create a personality for the doll.” Even the talking Barbies that appeared on the market never enjoyed the ascendancy that the mute, yet eloquent dolls did.
Barbie was both a child of her time and completely cutting edge. As the historian and author Stephanie Coontz has written,...
The Barbie clan began its life as white and remained so until 1967, when “Colored Francie” made her debut. But this Francie doll was produced using the existing head molds for the white Francie, and, other than her dark skin, lacked any other distinguishing African features. The first African American doll in the Barbie circle is usually regarded as Christie, who appeared in 1968. It wasn’t until 1980 that actual black and Hispanic Barbie dolls hit the market. Yet despite Mattel’s attempt to take a more racially sensitive stance, Ann Ducille, professor of American and African-American...
There has always been a Barbie backlash; mothers who refused to buy her, women who actively bashed her. Journalist-turned-novelist Anna Quindlen fantasized about driving a “silver lamé stake” through Barbie’s plastic heart; Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Carol Shields said Barbie’s expression, with “its dumb shine of self-absorption, its trippingly tartish look of one who is out for all she can get,” is “eerily disturbing.”
Barbie has been held responsible for eating disorders and charged with offering girls a wholly unrealistic body image. A typical Barbie doll...
Eight months after Barbie’s debut at the Toy Fair, Mrs. Handler was, according to the Los Angeles Times, driving a pink Thunderbird and running a half-million-dollar business.
Barbie sales continued strong throughout the early 1960s; her clothing, her accoutrements, and her Dream House adding to skyrocketing success. In 1961, Mattel brought out the ultimate Barbie accessory: Ken, Barbie’s square-jawed, crew-cut sporting steady beau named for Mrs. Handler’s son.
In the late 1960s, with the women’s liberation movement, Barbie seemed out of step with the new...
Barbie was born during the golden age of American post-World War II prosperity with its lushly saturated Technicolor movies, tidy new suburbs and cars as large as beached whales.
In the early 1950s, Mrs. Handler got the idea of creating an adult doll after observing her daughter’s fascination with adult paper dolls, whose clothing she was able to change.
Mrs. Handler envisioned a doll onto which girls could project their desire to act like, and indeed become, grown women. But the designers at Mattel initially balked, saying the level of detail that she wanted would...
Barbie, the single most successful doll ever produced, was the invention of Ruth Handler, one of the founders of the fledgling toy and novelty company, Mattel.
The petite plastic doll, named after her daughter, Barbara, made its debut on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. For the occasion, Barbie wore a black and white striped bathing suit, shoes and sunglasses. Her price was $3, a modest sum even then. A handful of outfits was displayed alongside her, costing between $1 and $3.
(Barbie toys with moving, but she remodels instead)
Move or remodel? That's a question many homeowners face, and Barbie is no exception. After checking out houses across the country, the iconic doll decided to remodel her three-story home in Malibu, Calif.
"That's where most of her family and friends are, so she decided to keep her house but make it more up-to-date," said Michelle Chidoni, Barbie spokeswoman and Mattel Corp. brand manager.
The result is the 2013 Dreamhouse, which hit stores Aug. 27 with a suggested price of $184.99.