Doll

Mattel

Barbie (1959), Ruth Handler

Founded in 1945 by Harold Matson and Elliot Handler as a dollhouse furniture company, Mattel is the manufacturer of the original Barbie fashion doll. In the early 1950s, Elliot’s wife Ruth came up with the idea of an adult-bodied doll, the Barbie, named after her daughter Barbara. In 1956, she came across a toy doll made by German company Greiner & Hausser, called Bild-Lilli. Although working on a doll of their one, Mattel also bought the copyright and patent rights for the Bild-Lilli doll.

The first Barbie doll wore a black and white zebra striped swimsuit and was available as either a blonde or brunette. The doll’s clothes were created by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson. The Barbie doll was an instant success: around 350,000 Barbie dolls were sold during the first year of production.

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© Mattel, Inc., El Segundo, California, US

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