Barbie is a best-selling fashion doll launched in 1959. The doll is produced by Mattel, Inc., and is a major source of revenue for the company. The American businesswoman Ruth Handler (1916-2002) is regarded as the creator of Barbie, and the doll's design was inspired by a German doll called Bild Lilli.
Barbie has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for nearly fifty years, and has been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits, often involving parody of the doll and her lifestyle. In recent years, Barbie has faced increasing competition from the Bratz range of dolls.
Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. In a series of novels published by Random House in the 1960s, her parents' names are given as George and Margaret Roberts from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. Barbie has been said to attend Willows High School and Manhattan International High School in New York City, based on the real-life Stuyvesant High School. She has an on-off romantic relationship with her beau Ken (Ken Carson), who first appeared in 1961. Like Barbie, Ken shares his name with one of Ruth Handler's children. A news release from Mattel in February 2004 announced that Barbie and Ken had decided to split up, but in February 2006 they were back together again.
Barbie CartoonBarbie has had over forty pets including cats and dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra. She has owned a wide range of vehicles, including pink Corvette convertibles, trailers and jeeps. She also holds a pilot's license, and operates commercial airliners in addition to serving as a flight attendant. Barbie's careers are designed to show that women can take on a variety of roles in life, and the doll has been sold with a wide range of titles including Miss Astronaut Barbie (1965), Doctor Barbie (1988) and Nascar Barbie (1998).
Mattel has created a range of companions for Barbie, including Hispanic Teresa, Midge, African American Christie and Steven (Christie's boyfriend). Barbie's siblings and cousins were also created including Skipper, Tutti (Todd's twin sister), Todd (Tutti's and Stacie's twin brother), Stacie (Todd's twin sister), Kelly, Krissy, Francie, and Jazzie. For more details, see the List of Barbie's friends and family.