- 85 years old
- Born Nov 04, 1916
- Died Apr 27, 2002
- California United States
Ruth Handler had noted that her daughter Barbara, who was becoming a pre-teen, preferred playing with her infant paper dolls and giving them adult roles. She wanted to produce a plastic doll with an adult body but her husband and Mr. Matson thought it wouldn't sell. But when the Handlers were on a European trip, Ruth Handler saw the German Bild Lilli doll (which was not meant for children at all; rather a gag gift for adults) in a Swiss shop and brought it home.
Once home, she reworked the design of the doll and renamed her Barbie after her daughter. Barbie debuted at the New York toy fair on March 12, 1959. Barbie became an instant success, rocketing the Handlers and their toy company toward fame and fortune. Subsequently they would add a boyfriend for Barbie named Ken, after Handler's son, and many other "friends and family" to Barbie's world.