No modern doll has become as iconic as Barbie, the teenage fashion model creation of Ruth Marianna Handler. Handler and her husband Elliot were creative and forward-thinking business people and the founders of the toy company Mattel. Inspired by watching her daughter play with paper dolls, Handler wanted to create a three-dimensional adult paper doll with as extensive a wardrobe and accessories as her two-dimensional sisters. On a trip to Europe, Handler came upon a Bild Lilli doll. Lilli was a comic character who appeared in the German newspaper Bild. She was a curvy blond bimbo who dressed in tight-fitting or revealing clothing. Her cartoon became so popular, she was made into a promotional doll, but as a mascot for adults, not a toy for children. However, Handler saw in the lascivious Lilli the all-American girl she wanted to create. She reworked the design to better fit her vision and Barbie (named after the Handler's daughter) was born, debuting at the New York toy fair on March 9, 1959. Barbie became the billion-dollar baby for Mattel, her world expanding to include her boyfriend Ken and other friends and family, endless dresses and accessories reflecting the newest fashions, and a vast variety of careers.
These beautiful Barbies belong to member Jenell Howell. The center doll is the Number 1 Barbie, with feet that fit over rods in her stand. The other two are the Number 3 Barbie introduced in 1960.