Is the Creator of Barbie Still Alive? The Life and Legacy of Ruth Handler

Is the Creator of Barbie Still Alive? Barbie is one of the most well-known and famous dolls in the world, but who made her? The answer is Ruth Handler, a businesswoman with a big idea who helped start Mattel and made Barbie in 1959. But Handler died in 2002 at the age of 85. He had lived a long and interesting life.

Who Was Ruth Handler?

Ruth Handler was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1916. Her parents came from Russia and were Jewish. She got married to her high school boyfriend, Elliot Handler, in 1938, and they moved to Hollywood, where they started a business making clocks and mirrors out of plastic. In 1945, they joined forces with Harold Mattson to start Mattel, which at first made picture frames and dollhouse furniture.

Handler noticed that her daughter Barbara liked to play with paper dolls that looked like teens or adults instead of baby dolls. She thought girls would like a doll made of plastic that looked like a grown woman and could wear different clothes and accessories.

Is the Creator of Barbie Still Alive

She told Mattel about the idea, but they didn’t like it because they thought that moms wouldn’t buy such a doll for their children.

But Handler kept going and got ideas from a German doll called Bild Lilli. It was based on a character from a comic strip and had a big body. During a trip to Europe, she bought one of the dolls and used it as a model for her own design. She gave her doll the name Barbie, after her daughter, and showed it off for the first time in 1959 at the New York Toy Fair.

What Happened to Ruth Handler?

Handler became one of the most powerful businesswomen because of her success with Barbie, but she also had to deal with many problems and scandals. She was told she had breast cancer in 1970 and had a mastectomy. She didn’t like the implants that were on the market, so she started her own company, Nearly Me, to make ones that looked more like her.

In 1974, the Securities and Exchange Commission said she lied about how much money Mattel made and committed fraud. She quit her job at Mattel, didn’t fight the charges, paid a fine, and did community service. She later wrote a book about her life called Dream Doll: The Ruth Handler Story. In it, she said that she had made mistakes but praised her successes.

Is the Creator of Barbie Still Alive

She was admitted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994 for her work to give women more power and help them start their own businesses. She also got many awards and medals from different groups and institutions. She stayed busy and worked for many causes until her death in 2002, which was caused by problems with surgery for colon cancer.

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How Do People Remember Ruth Handler Now?

Barbie, which is still one of the best-selling toys of all time, is part of Ruth Handler’s heritage. Barbie has changed over the years to represent changing social issues and trends, such as diversity, acceptance, body positivity, and being aware of the environment. Mattel has also made events, exhibitions, books, and movies to honor Barbie’s past and influence.

Barbie (2023), which is one of the newest movies, is directed by Greta Gerwig and stars Margot Robbie as the title character. In the movie, Rhea Perlman makes an appearance as Ruth Handler, who is a key part of Barbie’s journey to find herself. The movie shows how visionary and creative Handler was, and it also shows some of the darker parts of Barbie’s story.

Ruth Handler was a very interesting woman. She created Barbie, which changed the toy business and gave girls a role model for many years. She not only made things, but she also lived, led, and broke new ground. She may not be alive anymore, but every girl who plays with Barbie keeps her spirit alive.


Ruth Handler, a businesswoman, and entrepreneur, created Barbie in 1959. Despite facing challenges like breast cancer and fraud allegations, Handler continued to innovate and create dolls that resembled grown women. She founded Nearly Me, a company that aimed to make dolls more like her.

Today, Barbie remains a best-selling toy, reflecting social issues and trends. Mattel has created events, exhibitions, books, and movies to honor Handler’s legacy. Although she is no longer alive, every girl who plays with Barbie keeps her spirit alive.

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