Barbie Dolls: A Brief History

Filed under: Toys, Kids' Games

Barbie, quite possibly the most iconic of all dolls, was introduced on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Ruth Handler, the Mattel co-founder, based the design for the first Barbie off a German doll, Bild Lilli, which resembled an adult.

Most dolls from the 1950's resembled infants. Mattel bought the rights to the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 and stopped its production, forcing toy shops to focus on Barbie. In Barbie's first year of production, 350,000 dolls were sold, and Barbie began to capture hearts American- and world-wide.

Barbie was among the first toys to have an extensive marketing strategy on television. More than a billion Barbie dolls have been estimated to have been sold worldwide, and Mattel claims that three Barbie dolls are sold every second.

Barbie's cultural impact has been phenomenal over the past 50 years, inspiring artists including Andy Warhol, Peter Max and David Levinthal to create art featuring the doll. Thousands of collectors have also built large Barbie collections that include the doll, her clothes and other accessories.

Check out ParentDish's extensive Barbie coverage including the newest
black Barbie and our photo gallery of Barbie through the years.
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