On this day in 1959 Barbie the doll made its debut at the New York Toy fair, it wasn't an overnight success but now over a billion have been sold world wide.
Ruth Handler passed away at the age of 85 in 2002 but she led a quite remarkable life.
Along with husband (her highschool sweetheart) Elliot Handler with his business partner (Harold Matson) formed a small company selling plastic picture frames in 1945 called “mattel”. However it soon became apparent more money was made in producing dollhouse furniture, so Mattel became a toy business.
In 1947 Ruth took over the running of Mattel and within a year the company and its first hit toy based on the ukulele.
Ruth, inspired by her watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, took a trip to Germany where she saw the similar Bild Lilli doll and decided to start production on Barbie, the rest is history.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970 and undergoing a mastectomy, unhappy with the then current options she designed and made her own artificial breast prosthesis and made it available to other cancer survivors.
Controversy hit the company in 1974 when the Handlers were forced to resign and left the company they began due to false accounting.
In 2959 the first Barbie will have just about decomposed.
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