It's Barbie's 50th birthday

March 9, 2009 11:02:15 PM PDT
An American icon turns 50-years-old Monday. It's Barbie's birthday and in celebration of her first half-century, a full scale Barbie dream house opened in Malibu. The Bay Area also has a special place of its own for Barbie.

Barbie has dressed in gowns and jewels, been the working professional and looks like she can do anything.

"I think Barbie is a lot of us in some way shape or form. I think Barbie represents a lot of the things we admire, aspire to be," said Sandi Holder.

Holder owns Union City's Doll Attic and has her own Barbie museum.

"People laughed when I was going to quit my nursing job to sell Barbie dolls," said Holder.

It worked. She was named Barbie Dealer of the Year by Mattell.

Ruth handler created Barbie, based on a German doll, Lilli, who was a bad girl cartoon character. She named it after her daughter Barbara and she also had a son, Ken. The first doll came in a black and white swim suit.

"This particular doll is in her original packaging. With her stand and instructions on how to pose her," said Holder.

There's no play money here. Holder auctioned another original for more than $27,000. Barbie has come under fire for her materialism and her voluptuous body has been accused of giving young girls image issues.

"Ruth made her in 3D figures because Ruth felt girls should appreciate the fact of their body," said Holder.

In recent years, Barbie's waist has become bigger.

"I pay more attention to the fact Barbie represents such a wholesome image to young ladies," said Holder.

Through the years, designs changed, Barbie has been film and TV characters, and ones we've never seen like the Princess Diana doll.

"It was rejected by the Royal Family, so this Princess Diana is one of a kind," said Holder.

More than 1 billion sold in 150 countries. Mattel says there are three Barbies sold every second, and look at this. No gray hair, no wrinkles, not bad for someone turning 50.

Except Barbie was actually 16 when she debuted, which makes her eligible for Social Security.


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