Women of Interest – Ruth Handler

Ruth Handler was born November 4, 1916, in Denver, Colorado and passed away April 27, 2002. Handler was cofounder of the Mattel Toy Company. In 1959 she invented the one and only “Barbie” doll. This invention came as Handler observed her daughter playing with paper dolls. She wanted a more realistic doll for her daughter and other young girls that they could relate to. On a family trip to Europe, Handler saw a Lilli doll, which was an adult gag gift. She purchased the doll and reworked it, resulting in the creation of the first Barbie. Barbie was named after Ruth’s daughter Barbara. In spite of the skepticism of Ruth’s husband and the cofounder of Mattel, who said that parents would never buy their daughters a doll such as this, Ruth persevered. The Barbie doll was revealed at the New York Toy Fair. Toy critics, were shocked as they had never seen anything quite like the three dimension “Barbie” doll, breasts and all! The subsequent popularity of the doll proved all the doubters wrong and the “Barbie” doll continues to be the most popular doll in the world. In 1997 Ruth Handler was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame.

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