Love her, or hate her, today Barbie hits the half century mark. Happy Birthday, Barbie!
MATTEL TOY BARBIE DOLL HITS 50 WITH REAL MALIBU DREAM HOUSE
Icon Toy Helped Redefine Role Of Women To Young Girls
MALIBU, Calif. (CBS) ―
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
And, asnational correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports, while the one-time teenage fashion model is getting on in years, you might never know it.
Barbie is turning the big 5-0.
“I think she looks great … she’s still hot,” said one Barbie fan.
She made her debut at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler modeled Barbie after a sexy German doll named Bild Lilly.
In the five decades since, the fashionista has changed with the times, from the pill box hats of the 1960′s, to the sun-kissed Malibu Barbie of the 70′s, and the big hair of the 80′s, becoming the top selling doll of all-time.
“What was it about Barbie that struck such a nerve in America?” Kauffman ask M.G. Lord, author of “Forever Barbie.”
“I think Barbie really was in a lot of ways the first feminist. She kind of pointed the way out of the kitchen for little girls,” Lord said.
Barbie’s not all about play. She’s enjoyed 108 careers; as a nurse, astronaut, doctor, Marine and, long before Hillary, Barbie was a presidential candidate. Her newest job? A TV chef.
She’s also traveled in style.
And then there are the men in her life, including a very public breakup from long-time boyfriend Ken in 2004.
“Barbie actually had her midlife crisis at 45, you may recall she ditched Ken and took up with this guy Blaine from Australia. He looked like the pool boy — it was really embarrassing,” Lord said.
For collector Joan Hudson, who has more than 1,000 Barbie’s in her Brooklyn home, it’s the early dolls that remind her of her own youth.
She had a ponytail and curly bangs, which is how we used to wear our hair — she wore clothes that we used to wear. She’s been very reflective of the different eras,” Hudson said.
At the Barbie Design Center outside Los Angeles, Mattel is bringing the doll back to those roots with their latest creation, a tribute to the very first Bathing Suit Barbie.
And for a limited time, Mattel is even throwing back the price tag to just $3 — the original 1959 price.
The company hopes the birthday celebration will boost the bottom line. Like the rest of America, Barbie is hurting in this economy. Sales took a huge hit during the 2008 holiday season — down 21 percent.
But Barbie General Manager Richard Dickson says that the plastic princess will reign queen.
“Competition comes and competition goes, and Barbie will always prevail,” Dickson said.
“I think Barbie is absolutely part of the one-word Cher, Marilyn, Elvis, icon pantheon. And I think Barbie is going to last even longer than any of those icons,” Lord said
“But if she’s 50 years old, I assume we’re not going to see menopause Barbie?” Kauffman asked.
“No, I don’t think you’ll see Barbie go through that change,” Dickson laughed.
On the eve of her 50th birthday, interior decorator Jonathan Adler has decked out a real-life 3,500-square-foot pad overlooking the Pacific Ocean to look like the blond doll’s outrageous home.
Adler, who was commissioned by toy maker. to decorate the house for Monday’s party, said outfitting the sleek mansion (a property that’s frequently rented for film and photography shoots) took six months of planning and a few weeks to install.
“Barbie was a dream client because she doesn’t exist as a person,” Adler said. “She exists as fantasy and is the perfect client because she’s always happy and fun and loves everything. I thought to myself, ‘How would Barbie live?’ What I thought was Barbie would have a house that is glamorous, kittenish, chic, colorful and happy — as well as functional.”
Adler lined Barbie’s bedroom with wall-to-wall pink carpeting emblazoned with her initial. The closet is filled with 50 pairs of pink peep-toe heels while her kitchen is stocked with cupcake-making ingredients. An in-house museum features 25 vintage Barbie dolls on display. In the garage? A pink Volkswagen New Beetle with a motorized pop-up vanity in the trunk.
“I think this really is Barbie’s Malibu Dream House because the setting is so incredibly dreamy and ethereal,” Adler said. “We’re perched on a cliff in Malibu overlooking the ocean. It’s a fantasyland for anyone. It was difficult to find the house to celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday because it had to be the ultimate Malibu house, and I think we found it.”
Decorating Barbie’s real-world dream home, which will be the site Monday of a star-studded soiree celebrating the doll’s birthday, was a dream for Adler, the potter and decorator who has served as head judge on Bravo’s “Top Design.” He said Mattel gave him access to the company’s archives, including a look at all of Barbie’s various dream homes over the years.
Following the festivities, most of Barbie’s custom decor will be shipped to the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to furnish a special pink-tinted Barbie Suite that will be available for bachelorette parties, birthdays or anyone who wants to live like Barbie. Other items will be available from the “Jonathan Adler Loves Barbie” collection launching in September.
Adler’s favorite furnishings are hanging in the living room: an original Andy Warhol portrait of Barbie valued at over $200,000 and a chandelier — designed by “Project Runway” contestant Chris March — that’s made up of over 30 blond wigs and took more than 60 hours to craft. Adler also admires a one-of-a-kind black-and-white wall mirror created with 64 dolls.
So where’s Ken?
“Ken’s around, but does she need Ken?” said Adler. “No.”
(© 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Barbie’s rare 1990 fold-down Dream House (Photo courtesy of In the 80s – Toys of the Eighties.)
Barbie’s Dream Furniture. (Photo courtesy of the site In the 80s – Toys of the Eighties.)
Barbie’s Dream House, unfurnished, and unassembled. (Photo courtesy of the site In the 80s – Toys of the Eighties.)
Barbie’s Dream Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of the site In the 80s – Toys of the Eighties.)
Oreo Fun Barbie from 1997 became controversial due to a negative interpretation of the doll’s name. Critics in the Black American community argued that oreo is a derogatory term meaning that a person is “black on the outside, but, white on the inside”. The doll had dismal sales, and Mattel, Inc. had to recall the remaining unsold stock, causing this particular Barbie to be a sought-after, hard-to-find collector’s item.
(Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.)