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Ruth Mosko Handler

Ruth Mosko Handler

Ruth Mosko Handler is best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, but her most important work may be her prosthetics for survivors of breast cancer.

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Babe Ruth

Ruth Mosko Handler made two fortunes from plastic boobs.

First as the women who single handedly brought Barbie into our world. (Makes me think of Sophacles saying, “Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse.”)

And secondly, as a breast cancer survivor who created a prosthetic breast company. Thank you Ruth! What a powerhouse.

Ruth Mosko Handler unveils Barbie Doll

March 9, 1959

Ruth Mosko Handler unveiled the Barbie Doll at the International American Toy Fair in New York.

Ruth Mosko Handler

Best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, Ruth Mosko Handler combined her marketing genius with her husband Elliot Handler’s creative designs to form the toy company Mattel, Inc. Starting in their garage in 1939, the Handlers produced Lucite gifts, wooden picture frames, and dollhouse furniture before developing their first toy, the Uke-A-Doodle, in 1947. The success of the Uke-A-Doodle was followed by a series of rubber-belt-driven musical toys, including the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as toy guns such as a Winchester rifle replica. Yet it was the Barbie doll, created in 1959, that “ran off the counter.” Thirty years later, sales of the doll that Handler named after her daughter exceeded one billion dollars.

Happy 50th birthday, Barbie

I have to admit that I didn't grow up with Barbies. Born to a feminist mom in the 1970s, I only had Skipper, Barbie's flat-chested cousin. But as much as Barbie's boobs kind of frightened me (and still do), Skipper just didn't have her charisma.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Mosko Handler." (Viewed on November 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/15089>.

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