Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ruth Handler, founder of Mattel and “Mother of Barbie”


Ruth Mariana Handler, an American businesswoman, is best known for creating the Barbie doll in 1959 and co-founded the toy company Mattel with her husband Elliott. She was also the company’s first female president, a position she held from 1945 to 1975. Handler was forced to resign in 1975 after an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission that led to falsification of the company’s financial documents.

Handler was born on November 4, 1916, in Denver, Colorado, USA, she married Eliot Handler, and the couple moved to Los Angeles in 1939, where she found work at Paramount.

Elliott liked manual work and decided to enter the furniture manufacturing industry with two new types of plastic, namely “Plexiglas” and “Lucite”. His wife suggested he set up a company to make and sell furniture, and they began marketing the company until they agreed to major contracts, including one with Douglas Airlines.

Handler co-founded Mattel with Harold Madson. During World War II, as furniture sales declined, the company entered the toy and toy furniture industry. The company’s success in this field led to a complete turnaround in the toy industry.

Conflicting accounts

There are conflicting accounts of how Handler created the Barbie doll. In one version, Handler encountered a doll during a trip to Europe that resembled an adult woman, unlike children’s dolls common at the time. In another, Handler was watching his daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, which inspired him to create. A more three-dimensional game. A realistic representation of “what women want”.

The Barbie doll was first shown at the American Toy Fair in New York City in March 1959 and was an instant hit, Mattel sold 351,000 dolls within a year, and Handler signed a deal to promote the dolls as a sponsor. The one and only Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Barbie is the first shopping mall doll for kids. Later, Mattel added other characters to the Barbie world, including Ken and many other characters from the company’s brand assortment.

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Handler resigned from Mattel in 1974 after several investigations into the company’s involvement in financial fraud, and investigations continued after his resignation. In 1978, Handler was charged with fraud and falsifying financial documents, and $57,000. He was fined 2500 hours.

Handler died in California on April 27, 2002, at the age of 85, after complications from surgery. Her husband Elliott died nine years later at the age of 95.

Pandora Bacchus
Pandora Bacchus
"Coffee evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Hardcore creator. Infuriatingly humble zombie ninja. Writer. Introvert. Music fanatic."

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