We have all heard that Ruth Handler (wife of the owner of Mattel) invented the Barbie doll and named it after her daughter Barbara, which I've heard the poor daughter hated!
I met Mrs. Handler at a WIT (Women in Toys) meeting years ago, back in the day when I was doing more toy design work than pattern company work. She has just written her biography, so I learned the story straight from her mouth and, mostly, that story is true.
In the mid-fifties Mrs. Handler had noticed that her daughter and friends enjoyed playing with fashion paper dolls more than their actual 3-D dolls that were babyish. Which gave Ruth the idea to make a fashion doll proportioned like a fashion drawing.
Note that I said fashion drawing ... not fashion model. Fashion models have bodies that are thinner and taller than the average woman, but a fashion drawing is proportioned beyond all reality.
His creation was so popular, year later, they started manufacturing dolls based on his drawings in two sizes. The small ones were 7 1/2" and the large were 11 1/2", exactly the size of a Barbie doll!
Now, remember Ruth Handler had the idea of a fashion doll toy for girls BEFORE she went on a family trip to Germany. But, I think you can guess the rest of the story ... she saw one of these dolls in a store there, brought it home and then negotiated with the Lilli doll manufacturer to use the same molds to make our American Barbie!
Look at the hand ... the same! I've seen some Lilli dolls in a museum in Germany next to Barbie dolls and the body is exactly the same. The legs go into the hips in that funny very round way, just like Barbie.
They did make a new head, but not really all that new. Lilli's shoes and earrings are permanently stuck on her and Barbie's shoes and earrings are removable, which is more fun for little girls to dress up!
I imagine she wouldn't have had such large breasts, since most fashion models are not very busty, but again, we will never know.
Tomorrow, I will show you my first Barbie and some of her clothes. If you haven't seen the Barbie clothes that were made in her first years, you will be amazed!