Step into the world of Barbie, where glamour, style and iconic history await! We’re diving into the fascinating universe of everyone’s favourite fashion-forward doll. From controversial transformations to intricate accessories, family secrets and unexpected connections, get ready to uncover the hidden gems that have shaped Barbie’s legacy. Join us on a journey through the decades as we reveal the quirky, heart-warming and sometimes jaw-dropping facts that make Barbie much more than just a doll – she’s a pop culture phenomenon.
Barbie’s Origin Story
(1) Barbie’s origin story is like a fantastic mashup of talents! It all began when rocket scientist Jack Ryan teamed up with the visionary Ruth Handler, a dynamo in the business world. Ruth noticed her daughter favouring paper dolls over regular baby dolls, sparking the idea for a new kind of playmate. Working together, this dynamic duo birthed the Barbie we know and love. But here’s the twist: Jack Ryan, the co-designer of the first Barbie, wasn’t just any engineer – he later married Zsa Zsa Gabor!
(2) Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She was named after Ruth Handler’s daughter. While her friends fondly know her as “Barbie,” her official name honours the founder’s daughter, Barbara Handler. And if you’re wondering about Ken, well, he’s named after Ruth’s son, Kenneth.
(3) Barbie came to life on 9 March 1959 (jip she is 64 years old!), at the American International Toy Fair in New York – the exact day her creator introduced her to the world.
(4) Barbie’s appearance took cues from a German doll called Bild Lilli, which was originally intended for grown-ups, not kids. And here’s the kicker: Lilli was an R-rated doll modelled after a 1950s comic character who was a high-end call girl. Yep, you read that right! The doll that inspired Barbie caused a bit of drama when its makers accused Mattel of swiping some of Lilli’s style. Lawsuit, anyone?
(5) Barbie comes from the made-up town of Willows, Wisconsin, giving her that Midwest vibe. Even though she’s known worldwide, Barbie’s “birthplace” is the imaginary Willows, Wisconsin, where she arrived on 9 March 1959. Small town origin, big-time influence!
(6) Barbie’s got quite the family! She’s got seven siblings up for grabs. Skipper joined the crew in 1964, twins Todd and Tutti hung around from 1965 to 1971, Stacie jumped in during 1990, Kelly was available from 1994 to 2010, and Chelsea stepped in as Kelly’s replacement in 2011. That’s a whole bunch of Barbie love!
(7) Curious about Barbie’s family? Say hi to her folks, George and Margaret Roberts, chilling in Willows, WI.
(8) Back in 1971, Tutti vanished, leaving twin Todd behind. Then came Stacie, with a matching twin riddle – could she be Tutti’s comeback?
(9) Barbie’s English cousin, Francie Fairchild, stepped into the scene just as a royal wedding was happening.
(10) Hang tight, because in 1999, Barbie had over 500 friends and family – aliens, Disney characters, you name it! She’s like the ultimate social butterfly. And who can forget Earring Magic Ken making waves? Or that time when Barbie and G.I. Joe played a voice swap game? Let’s just say, it was a rollercoaster of confusion!
(11) Barbie’s got a thing for younger guys. Surprising twist: Ken is actually two years junior to Barbie despite their iconic match.
(12) The iconic Barbie smile we recognize today took 12 years to make its debut.
(13) Barbie welcomed her inaugural Black friend, Christie, into her circle in 1968.
(14) The very first Barbie from 1959 flaunted a swimsuit and a sidelong gaze, but it wasn’t until 1971 that she started giving that straight-ahead stare.
(15) Barbie’s totally into pets and owns over 40 of them! She’s got everything from dogs and horses to a panda and even a lion cub. She’s like a pet magnet! Among her crew, there are 21 dogs, 14 horses, six cats, and even a giraffe and zebra. That’s a whole zoo at her fingertips!
(16) If Barbie came to life, her measurements would be a tad unique: 5’9” tall, have a 39” bust, an 18” waist, 33” hips and a size 3 shoe!. Just sayin’!
(17) Let’s take a trip back to the late 1970s when “Sun Gold Malibu Barbie” ruled the scene. Imagine this: the doll could actually tan! Yep, you read that correctly. Stick on some stickers, put her under a lamp, and bam – tan lines. Can you believe even dolls were chasing that sun-kissed look? Who knew dolls had such beachy vibes?
Fashion, Fame & Money
(18) Barbie rocked a totally retro look back in the day with her black-and-white striped swimsuit and a classic ponytail hairdo.
(19) Barbie has rocked clothes from over 70 big-shot designers, totally sealing her rep as a fashion legend. She’s teamed up with the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin and Givenchy, making her style game even stronger. Oscar de la Renta designed Barbie’s first designer dress in 1984, marking a fashionable milestone.
(20) In 2009, Barbie strutted her stuff on the runway at New York Fashion Week for the very first time, marking her 50th birthday bash. She owned the spotlight with her very own show, featuring stunning designs from big-name creators.
(21) Barbie’s very first famous buddy took after the British fashion icon Twiggy. But hold on, the celebrity fun didn’t stop there in Barbie’s family! Back in 1967, the ultra-cool teen sensation Twiggy got her very own fashion doll. And as if that wasn’t enough, the legendary M.C. Hammer hopped aboard in 1991 with his very own doll, complete with a cassette tape twist.
(22) The famous pop art legend Andy Warhol actually painted a portrait of Barbie’s buddy BillyBoy*, giving their friendship an awesome artsy spin!
(23) The priciest Barbie ever sold came with a super rare Argyle pink diamond and went for a whopping $302,500 at an auction. Yup, you heard it right! The Stefano Canturi Barbie, blinged out with a diamond necklace, was snatched up for more than 300 grand!
(24) If Barbie’s Dreamhouse actually existed, Forbes believes it would be valued at an astounding $16 million, decked out with all sorts of fancy stuff. Over time, Barbie’s Dreamhouse has come a long way – from starting out as cardboard to evolving into lavish townhouses loaded with cool, new features.
(25) Some Barbies are super rare and can actually sell for thousands of dollars. Believe it or not, there’s a massive collection out there – over 15,000 dolls – and it’s owned by Bettina Dorfmann! Crazy, right?
(26) Barbie totally rules the fashion scene – from rocking elegant dresses to those iconic swimsuits. But guess what? She’s not just a style icon; she’s also a superhero! Back in 2019, she even transformed into X-Men characters like Mystique and Dark Phoenix. How cool is that?
(27) Back in 1959, the very first Barbie was priced at $3 (around R56), which translates to about $24 (around R450) in today’s money. Quite the steal for a true style icon!
(28) Mattel’s Fashionistas collection totally rocked the doll world by bringing in all sorts of body types, skin tones and hairstyles. It’s like they threw open the doors to diversity and said, “Come on in, everyone’s welcome!”
(29) Barbie dolls are available in a whopping 150 countries, and her “Dolls of the World” collection is like a global adventure, celebrating different cultures in style! That makes her the world’s most beloved doll, uniting fans from all corners of the globe.
(30) Mattel’s “Inspiring Women” series is all about giving a shout-out to awesome ladies by turning them into Barbie dolls. It’s like celebrating these incredible role models in the coolest way!
(31) The 1992 Totally Hair™ Barbie stole the show with her floor-length hair. She was a best seller in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil and Mexico
(32) Can you believe it? A Barbie doll gets sold somewhere around the world every three seconds! Talk about going global in style!
(33) Barbie isn’t just a regular doll – she’s a total cultural sensation! From museum showcases and themed hotspots to her worldwide fame, there’s no denying her massive impact on pop culture.
(34) Barbie and Ken’s relationship has been a rollercoaster, splitting in 2004. The Australian surfer doll named Blaine appeared in Barbie’s world. They dated around 2004 to 2006. In 2011, Barbie and Ken reignited their love on Valentine’s Day.
(35) Barbie’s career journey spans more than 250 roles in 60 years, shattering the doll world’s glass ceiling. Her résumé boasts over 200 careers, from astronaut, business executive, teacher, palaeontologist, a Desert Storm medic, UNICEF ambassador to rapper. She’s rocked space three times since 1965, even hanging out in the National Space Station on “Mission Dream Star.” She’s not just a doll, but a cosmic superstar!
(36) Before all the impressive careers, Barbie’s first job was as a teen model, setting the stage for her incredible journey.
(37) Barbie has run for president in nearly every election year since 1992, reflecting her diverse aspirations. Barbie’s a frequent candidate, running for president six times.
(38) Global fashion designer superstars like Gucci, Versace and more have contributed to Barbie’s stylish wardrobe.
(40) Ever heard of “Babysitter Barbie”? Back in 1963, Mattel introduced this doll with a book called “How to Lose Weight.” But hold on, this book’s solution was simply “Don’t eat.” Talk about a major oops! This combo faced some serious heat for sending out bad vibes about body image and dieting to young girls. The whole thing taught us a lesson: toys should spread good vibes and healthy messages.
(41) In the groovy year of 1965, Mattel introduced the “Slumber Party Barbie” – a hip doll with a quirky sidekick: a bathroom scale forever stuck at 110 pounds. But uh-oh, this accessory stirred up a ruckus! Folks thought it might be whispering not-so-great ideas about body image to young minds. Critics said, “Hold up, that’s not the message we want.” They worried it could mess with self-esteem and body love.
(42) Back in 1975, there was a doll named “Growing Up Skipper” that turned heads – literally! Twisting her arm made her appear taller and, surprise, she seemed to develop breasts. But this innovation wasn’t all fun and games. Critics worried it might make kids grow up too fast, and some eyebrows were raised about the whole growing-up process becoming a plaything.
(43) In 1992, “Teen Talk Barbie” hit the scene, armed with sassy pre-recorded lines. Imagine phrases like “Will we ever have enough clothes?” “Math class is tough!” “I’m so excited to go shopping after this!” But oh boy, those lines got people talking, and not in a good way. People were like, “Hold up, are we reinforcing stereotypes here?” Barbie was all about breaking barriers, but those lines raised some eyebrows!
(44) Meet “Earring Magic Ken” – the hip and happening Ken doll that strutted onto the scene in 1993, rocking an earring, a snazzy mesh shirt, and shades that could blind you with style! This Ken was like the embodiment of all things cool and modern, taking fashion cues from grunge and hip-hop vibes that were heating up the era. But oh boy, did this doll stir up some drama! People couldn’t help but notice the doll’s flair for fabulousness, and that’s when the controversy train pulled into the station. Some folks thought our fashionable friend was a bit too close for comfort to gay culture and its stereotypes. Critics raised eyebrows, claiming that his looks and fashion choices were stirring the pot of masculinity and sexual orientation. Even with all the hubbub, “Earring Magic Ken” shrugged off the haters and marched proudly into the ranks of collector’s items. So there you have it – a funky slice of the early ’90s, where fashion met social attitudes in a whirlwind of colors, controversy, and collectible coolness.
(45) “Meet ‘Happy Family Pregnant Midge’ (2002)! Midge, Barbie’s buddy, rocked a cool feature—a detachable baby bump! Some folks got into a tizzy, worried it might glamorize teen pregnancy for the kiddos. But hey, dolls sparking discussions? That’s pretty impressive!”
(46) In 2009, Mattel unleashed “Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken” into the world of fashion dolls as part of the swanky Barbie Fashion Model Collection. This dapper doll flaunted the air of a sophisticated gentleman, decked out in posh threads like a snazzy suit, an elegant ascot tie, and a suave Panama hat. His ensemble radiated the opulent lifestyle that screams Palm Beach lavishness. Now, here’s the twist: The doll’s moniker, “Sugar Daddy Ken,” tickled some eyebrows and captured plenty of chatter. You see, “sugar daddy” typically points to a well-off, mature dude who pampers a younger companion with financial perks, often in return for, well, some TLC. Some folks found the doll’s name an amusing nod to the ritzy theme, while others detected a cheeky hint in the direction of those special connotations.
(47) In 2010, Mattel brought us the “Barbie Video Girl” – a doll with a tech twist! Sporting a secret camera in her necklace, Barbie let you see the world through her eyes. You could play back the cool videos on her back screen. But hold on – this creative gadget stirred up a storm. Some worried about privacy, fearing the camera could be misused to capture not-so-nice moments. It was a fun idea that raised some serious questions about blending tech and toys responsibly.
(48) In 2015, “Hello Barbie” burst onto the scene, sparking privacy worries because it chatted with kids using AI magic. But uh-oh, it recorded voices and sent them off, making folks fret about security and privacy.
TV & Movies & Social & Other facts
(49) A whopping 100 million yards of fabric have gone into making Barbie’s clothes, making Mattel a fashion giant.
(50) Barbie’s not picky about shoes—over a billion pairs have been designed for her!
(51) After her own battle with breast cancer, Ruth Handler helped develop a high-quality breast prosthesis for survivors.
(52) Barbie Pink, known as PMS 219, has been a signature shade used by Mattel for logos and merchandise.
(53) Barbie’s presence on television has propelled careers, with stars like Mila Kunis and Fergie appearing in her ads.
(54) Barbie’s style evolution can be followed on her Instagram account @barbiestyle, showcasing an array of looks.
(55) Back in the 1950s, Barbie made history by being one of the first toys to star in TV ads. These commercials flipped the script by appealing directly to kids, changing the way toys were marketed.
(56) Barbie made her big-screen appearance in 2023 with a movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Barbie’s signature colour is as iconic as she is. Her world drips with pink, from cars to shoes to dream houses. Fun fact: so much pink was used in the recent movie that it caused a pink shortage!
(57) Barbie commercials became the first aimed at kids on TV, and she’s been part of more than 3,000 different ads.
(58) Aqua’s song “Barbie Girl” was a chart-topping hit and one of the UK’s best-selling singles.
(59) With nearly 3,000 videos and over 11 million subscribers, Barbie’s YouTube channel is a global hit.
(60) Worldwide, The Barbie Movie passed $1 billion on Sunday 6 August 2023! The film is now eyeing a total of $1.3 to $1.6 billion by the end of its run. Barbie is now the second highest-grossing movie of 2023, beating Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and falling just behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie.