Ruth Handler

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Ruth Handler (born November 4, 1916 in Denver , Colorado ; † April 27, 2002 ) was an American and together with her husband Elliot Handler and Harold Matson the founder of the toy company Mattel . She is known as the "mother of the Barbie doll".


Ruth Handler was born in Denver in 1916 as the youngest daughter of the Polish-Jewish immigrants Jakob Joseph Mosko and Ida Rubenstein . In 1938 she married Elliot Handler. The couple founded a small company with Harold Matson in 1945 to manufacture picture frames and dollhouse furniture. Since the dolls' furniture was selling well, they specialized in the production of various toys.

On a trip to Europe, Ruth Handler discovered a German mannequin named Lilli in a shop window in Switzerland , which she bought for her daughter Barbara. This doll became the model for the Barbie doll, which Mattel sold from 1959. The entrepreneur later stated that she thought it was important for the development of female self-esteem that girls play with dolls that have breasts. Critics complained, however, that Barbie's proportions - large breasts, extremely narrow waist, long legs - corresponded to male expectations and that she was therefore unsuitable as a toy. However, Barbie was a top seller from the start and established Mattel's success. It is still sold millions of times around the world every year.

In 1967 Ruth Handler became the company's president. She developed breast cancer in the 1970s and retired from Mattel's executive suite. After her breast surgery, she found that the breast prostheses available at the time were not suitable for very few women. She therefore founded a company herself to manufacture high-quality breast prostheses and called it Nearly Me .

Ruth Handler died in 2002 at the age of 85 and was buried in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City , California . Her husband and business partner Elliot Handler died of heart failure in Los Angeles on July 21, 2011, at the age of 95 . He was buried next to his wife.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Biography Ruth Handler on (English)
  2. Heart failure: Barbie inventor Elliot Handler dies . AFP article on , July 24, 2011, accessed November 4, 2016.