5 Stunning Facts You Didn't Know About The Barbie Doll

On March 9, 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City. To celebrate Barbie's birthday, here are 5 stunning facts you probably didn't know about everyone's favorite doll...


Barbie’s Figure Was Inspired by a German Doll for Adults Bild Lilli was a doll in Germany based on a comic strip where she appeared as a gold digger and callgirl who seduced men who were rich. Clearly, this doll was not designed for children but for adults. Tobacco shops, adult stores, and bars sold Bild Lilli as a novelty in the 1950s. Ruth Handler, who was a founder of toy company Mattel, spotted Bild Lilli when she was in Europe and bought a few to bring back to the United States. She then redesigned the doll as "Barbie," buying the company rights to the German doll in 1964.

The Doll Was Named After Ruth Handler’s Daughter Elliot and Ruth Handler named Barbie after their daughter, Barbara, and the doll’s complete name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. The Ken doll was named after their son. As an additional bit of trivia, Elliot Handler, whose business partner was Harold “Matt” Matson, named the company Mattel by combining parts of both their names.


Mattel Has Sold Over One Billion Barbie Dolls When Barbie turned 50 in 2009, there had already been one billion dolls sold around the world. Despite a sales decline since 2014, Mattel still sells one Barbie every three seconds somewhere in the world. An estimated 99 percent of girls in the United States between the ages of 3 and 10 own at least one Barbie. The biggest collector is a woman in Germany whose collection of 15,000 dolls is valued at over $300,000.

The Most Expensive Barbie Sold for Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars In 2010, a one of a kind Barbie created to raise money for cancer research. She was dressed in a simple black strapless dress with a tiered skirt and something else quite special — a necklace with a real pink diamond, surrounded by square cut and white baguette diamonds. She sold at auction for $302,500.

Barbie Dolls Have Unrealistic Proportions A study was conducted in 1965 on the proportions and body shape of a Barbie doll compared to a female human. The study reported that Barbie, if she was human, would weigh 110 pounds and be 5’7” tall. The human Barbie’s measurements would be 32” x 16” by 29,” which is more than a little unrealistic. In 2016, Mattel released three new Barbies with different proportions: petite, curvy, and tall. The company has also introduced a wider range of skin tones to reflect different ethnicities.