Root Handler

Root Handler

Mom <Barbie>
Date of Birth: 04.11.1916
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Ruth Handler
  2. Creating Barbie
  3. Independent Spirit
  4. The Birth of Mattel
  5. Building Success
  6. The Birth of Barbie
  7. American Dream
  8. Barbie's Success
  9. Barbie's Rise to Fame

Biography of Ruth Handler

Creating Barbie

Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, was born in the United States. She had two children and a doll. While her children brought her joy, the doll brought her money. Today, Barbie's "mother" is one of the richest and most famous women in the United States. Her company holds the top spot in the world for capital turnover earned from toys.

Independent Spirit

Even in school, when the United States was in crisis, Ruth believed that she could only rely on herself in life. She told her father that she would attend college, shocking her conservative parents who believed that women should dedicate themselves to family and children. Career was seen as something for men. However, Ruth believed that one did not exclude the other. She enrolled in college and soon married Elliot Handler, whom she had been dating since school. This union proved fruitful, not only in terms of continuing the family line (the Handlers had a daughter, Barbara, and a son, Kenneth) but also in making Ruth Handler the "mother" of the most famous doll in human history - Barbie. She also became one of the richest women in the United States.

The Birth of Mattel

It all started when the Handlers opened a company in the mid-1940s, manufacturing wooden picture frames. Elliot made the samples, while Ruth was responsible for advertising and sales. However, Elliot had the idea of using the leftover wood scraps instead of throwing them away. Ruth suggested making toy furniture out of the production waste. She loved watching Barbara play with her dolls and build beds and tables for them out of matchboxes and blocks. They quickly discovered that the miniature cabinets and beds were more popular than the frames.

Building Success

However, they didn't have enough money. So, the Handlers decided to involve their old friend, Harold Matson, in their family business. To interest him, they proposed naming the new company Mattel, a combination of the names "Matt" (Mattson) and "El" (Elliot). At that time, in 1944, Ruth's name remained in the background. Although her name was not included in the company's name at that time, it would later become world-famous. In 1956, Ruth Handler went on vacation to Switzerland. There, she saw an unusual doll everyone called Lilli - a painted blonde with revealing curves and an equally revealing wardrobe. Released in 1955 based on a popular comic strip in the West German newspaper Bild, Lilli was sold in bars and pubs, mainly purchased by concerned middle-aged men for their mistresses.

The Birth of Barbie

It was then that Ruth realized that children must have grown tired of playing "mother-daughter" with their baby dolls. It was time to create a doll that could serve as a model and embody their dreams of adulthood. Ruth had enough money not only to buy Lilli but also to acquire the rights to her. She knew exactly what she wanted for her creation and hired the best technicians, artists, and engineers from Mattel.

American Dream

At that time, Hollywood was buzzing with the name of sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, who successfully competed with Marilyn Monroe. After marrying Superman, Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, the actress transformed their mansion into a sweet and fluffy love nest. Everything in her house was decorated in pink and light red tones, adorned with cupids and hearts. Women all over America went crazy for this image, wanting to imitate the actress in everything. This is how Barbie was originally modeled after her - busty, blonde, with arched eyebrows and bright red full lips. Soon, a palace-like dollhouse was created for the newborn princess, replicating the heart-decorated home of Jayne Mansfield. The first outfits for Barbie were ordered from famous designers such as Givenchy and Dior.

Barbie's Success

In 1958, Mrs. Handler officially patented her invention. The doll was named after her daughter, Barbara. Thus, Barbie was born. Ruth invited 100 mothers and 100 girls of different ages to view and express their opinions on the new doll. Almost all the mothers were against it, believing that Barbie looked too realistic and playing with such a doll could be harmful to children's mental health. However, all the girls unanimously stated that they wanted a Barbie doll. Ruth decided to listen to the children.

Barbie's Rise to Fame

In 1959, during the annual New York Toy Fair, Mattel showcased its new creation to the world - a long-legged doll with well-developed curves, makeup, brightly painted nails, and pearl earrings. The beauty wore an elegant striped swimsuit that emphasized her chest and open-toed high-heeled sandals. The new toy was offered in two versions: blonde and brunette.

Wholesale buyers initially turned away from the novelty, firmly believing that American parents would never buy such a doll for their little girls. After a disappointing display at the toy fair, Ruth decided to promote the toy through television. The advertisement worked, and a Barbie craze swept the nation. The first batch of busty dolls (351 pieces) sold out instantly, earning the Handler family five million dollars.

Over the first decade, Barbie brought the Handlers five hundred million dollars. In 1993, Barbie brought in one billion dollars for the family, and in 1994, it reached two billion. Now, the doll, which no wholesaler wanted to buy forty years ago, is sold in 150 countries worldwide for $25-70 each. According to experts, the doll is among the top twenty best-selling products in the world.

Barbie now has four sisters, a brother, two cousins, over twenty friends, and as many pets. The bigger the family, the more money there is to be made. Each new model comes with a new wardrobe, a new car, a desire for new furniture in the dollhouse, and much more (depending on what American women are into at the moment). For example, when Jane Fonda invented aerobics, and the trend swept the country, Mattel released a cassette tape with corresponding exercises for Barbie.

Ruth invented Ken, Barbie's first friend, most likely wanting to immortalize her son Kenneth's name. With the introduction of Ken, an amusing incident occurred. The creative directors at Mattel wondered, "Should Ken differ from Barbie below the waist?" Everyone understood that conservative mothers did not approve of Barbie's breast, even without nipples. One can only imagine the scandal that would arise if their daughters started playing with a man who had some kind of appendage, even if it was only a centimeter! After lengthy debates, it was decided that Ken would wear permanent shorts with natural bulges. However, due to some mishap at the manufacturing factory, Ken was born without his private parts. As it turned out, the girls didn't mind. What mattered to them was which convertible Ken would use to drive his girlfriend Barbie.

Ruth Handler's happy children, Kenneth and Barbara, prefer the most expensive car brands for their dolls. Thanks to their mother.