Barbie celebrates 55th birthday - New York News

Barbie celebrates 55th birthday

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

She certainly doesn't look it.

Barbie, the iconic American doll celebrated her 55th birthday over the weekend.

It all started in the 1950s when Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, watched her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, and noticed that she often enjoyed giving them adult roles. At the time, most children's toy dolls were representations of infants. Realizing that there could be a gap in the market, Handler suggested the idea of an adult-bodied doll to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. He was unenthusiastic about the idea, as were Mattel's directors.

During a trip to Europe in 1956 with her children Barbara and Kenneth, Ruth Handler came across a German toy doll called Bild Lilli.

The adult-figured doll was exactly what Handler had in mind, so she purchased three of them. She gave one to her daughter and took the others back to Mattel.

The Lilli doll was based on a popular character appearing in a comic strip drawn by Reinhard Beuthin for the newspaper Die Bild-Zeitung. Lilli was a blonde bombshell, a working girl who knew what she wanted and was not above using men to get it.

The Lilli doll was first sold in Germany in 1955, and although it was initially sold to adults, it became popular with children who enjoyed dressing her up in outfits that were available separately.

Upon her return to the United States, Handler reworked the design of the doll [with help from engineer Jack Ryan] and the doll was given a new name, Barbie, after Handler's daughter Barbara.

The beloved doll debuted at the "New York Toy Fair" in 1959.

And in that time she's made her mark in more than 140 countries.

She’s also been reinvented many times.

Barbie has been a working woman, an Olympic athlete, a US Presidential candidate and an astronaut.

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