Ruth Handler was brought up in a Jewish family in Denver. She and her husband had a toy furniture business during World War II. After the war, the Handlers "took their two teenagers -- Barbara and Ken -- on a trip to Europe .... There, they saw a doll that looked like an adult woman, vastly different from the baby dolls most little girls owned. Ruth was inspired. Three years later, Mattel's version, Barbie, would debut, with a wardrobe of outfits that could be purchased separately. In 1960, the Handlers took Mattel public, with a valuation of $10 million ($60.3 million in 2003 dollars). It was on its way to the Fortune 500, and Barbie quickly became an icon, with ever-changing wardrobe and career options that mirrored women's changing aspirations." --From PBS.org
In the photo: my Mona Lisa Barbie. This is my first -- and last -- Barbie doll in my whole life. I guess. Unless they make a Leonardo Ken with a paintbrush or something. Tablet magazine recently wrote up these art-inspired Barbie dolls that appeal to adults, not pre-teens. They say: "Though she was an immediate hit, Barbie was long maligned by intellectuals for her anatomical and political incorrectness. But now Handler’s creation is finally enjoying a post-modernist, post-feminist bump. The doll who has been toyed with by so many artists—sometimes lovingly, sometimes sadistically—is now a museum piece. The original 1959 Barbie Teen Age Fashion Model, known as Barbie No. 1, was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which will feature her (and Ken) in its upcoming show 'California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way.'"