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Ruth Handler

1916 – 2002

“We didn't know how to run a business, but we had dreams and talent.”

Hello, Doll

No doll has generated talk, enraged feminists and kick-started boys’ fantasies quite like Barbie. Ruth Handler, one of the cofounders of Mattel, Inc., was watching her young daughter, Barbara, play with paper cutout dolls of teenagers and career women and decided to create a three-dimensional doll.

The first Barbie, her daughter’s nickname, made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. The nearly 12″ doll, with blue eyes, blonde ponytail and dressed in a black-and-white swimsuit, sold for $3 in its first year. Barbie’s large breasts and tiny waist (in an anatomically impossible ratio) generated a great deal of controversy over the years, but not enough to stop her from becoming perhaps the best-selling doll of all time.


Emily Dunning Barringer: Clara Barton: Alice Gertrude Bryant and Florence West Duckering: Elizabeth Blackwell: Mary Whiton Calkins: Mary Stuart Fisher: Justina Ford: Alice Hamilton: Grace Murray Hopper: Barbara McClintock: Maria Mitchell: Nettie Stevens: Lucy Hobbs Taylor: Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu: Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu: