Creator of American pop culture icon

Creator of American pop culture icon

Most of the revolutionary ideas of entrepreneurs are laughed at and the story of Ruth Handler isn’t a different one. When Ruth Handler first proposed the idea to create a grown-up doll, the marketing staff at Mattel, Inc. were reluctant to work on it. Ruth’s husband Elliot Handler co-owned the company along with Harold Matson.

Ruth first came up with the idea of creating a barbie when she observed her daughter and her friends playing with paper baby dolls enacting as adults. Ruth improvised on all the limitations and quality of the paper dolls to create a three-dimensional plastic doll with an adult body and a wardrobe of different fabrics to enhance these dolls. She worked on several prototypes before coming up with the final one and she named the doll after her daughter Barbara. The world now knows this toy as ‘Barbie’. Barbie debuted at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959, but was not an immediate success.

Facing hiccups for nearly three years, Mattel invested heavily in television advertising when Disney introduced The Mickey Mouse Club children’s television show. The TV commercials for the Barbie doll paid off and Barbie rocketed Mattel and the Handlers to fame and fortune.


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