The Quick 10: Happy Birthday, Barbie!

Image credit: 

barbie-home.jpgShe's 50 next week, you know. I feel like she's probably had some work done "“ she looks way too good for being five decades old. If plastic surgery (plastic surgery, haha) is one of her secrets, though, I'm not sharing that here... but I do have 10 other Barbie factoids for you.

1. Barbie's birthday represents her public debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York in 1959. Despite the fact that she's 50 years old, Barbie just got her first bellybutton in 2000.

2. She was created by an engineer who used to work for the Pentagon. Jack Ryan (yep, there's a real Jack Ryan) not only helped design Barbie, he also worked with Mattel on Chatty Cathy. And in an unrelated fact, he was Zsa Zsa Gabor's sixth husband. Rumor has it that when their marriage started going downhill (which was quick, since they were married for less that two years), he once disassembled her Rolls Royce, piece by piece, and refused to put it back together for her.

lilli3. The lady behind the actual idea was Ruth Handler. She on a trip to Europe with her kids when she came across the Bild Lilli doll (that's her in the picture. See a resemblance?). She had mentioned the idea of an adult doll to her Mattel-exec husband before, but he wasn't interested. She bought three of the Bild Lilli dolls and brought them back to show him; he was sold. Mattel bought the rights to Bild Lilli and the rest is history.

4. Barbie is named after the Handlers' daughter, Barbara. Ken is named after their son, Kenneth. Her parents are apparently George and Margaret Roberts from Willows, Wisconsin. Other family includes her siblings, Skipper, Tutti, Todd, Stacie, Kelly and Krissy. Tutti and Todd are twins... but so are Todd and Stacie. Tutti mysteriously disappeared in 1971, so we can only assume that Stacie (introduced in 1992) is Tutti reincarnated. She also has cousins named Francie and Jazzie. She also apparently has a cousin called LuluBelle, but LuluBelle has never been merchandised.

5. Barbie has obviously been at the center of body image controversies throughout the years due to her ridiculously svelte-yet-busty figure.

Mattel makes Barbie at a 1/6 scale, which is standard scale for action figures. This would make Barbie's measurements 38-18-28 (reports vary based on versions of dolls).

Slumber Party Barbie of 1965 came with your very own "How to Lose Weight" book "“ one of the tips included was "don't eat."

She also came with a bathroom scale that put the 5'9" Barbie in at 110 pounds. Well, 5'9" if you consider the 1/6 scale, which makes Barbie about 35 pounds underweight and probably unable to have a period. If you consider 11.5" Barbie at 110 pounds, she's a total fatty.

6. The first Barbie was $3. In mint condition, the same one is worth $27,450 today.

lucy7. Celebrity Barbies have included Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Twiggy (the first celebrity doll), LeAnn Rimes, Cher and Lindsay Lohan.

8. Barbie's first career was a teen model. Since then she's been (in order), a fashion editor, a stewardess, a ballerina, a tennis pro, an executive, a candy striper, an astronaut, a surgeon, Miss America, a gold medal gymnast, an actress, an aerobics instructor, a reporter, a rockstar, a UNICEF Ambassador (hey, I had that one!), an army officer, a rapper, a chef, a police officer, a Rockette, a baseball player, a SCUBA diver, a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, a paleontologist, a NASCAR driver, a pilot, a sign language teacher, a presidential candidate, an American Idol winner, a zoologist, a Space Camp instructor and a fashion magazine intern. And this list is by no means exhaustive - she's had a total of 108 careers so far.

9. Barbie's signature color, in case you haven't noticed, is pink. Barbie Pink, which the Mattel website pointed out is Pantone color PMS 219. The immature side of me snickered a little bit at that.


10. Barbie and her friends come in seven different skin tones and seven different hair colors. She wears brown eyeshadow the most often and apparently has more than 300 shades of brown in her "beauty kit," according to the Mattel site.

More from mental_floss...

March 4, 2009 - 9:55am
submit to reddit