The Barbie Doll
Ruth Moskowicz (1916-2002) was born in Denver to Jewish-Polish parents that immigrated to America. She married her high school sweetheart Elliot Handler, who pioneered a new type of furniture made from a combination of plexiglass and lucite. Ruth convinced him to start a business, and they combined forces with Harold Matson, creating the popular company Mattel (a combination of Matson and Elliot). Over time, they switched to producing toys, and created a music box that sold an incredible 20 million units by 1952. But the success was only just beginning. Seeing that her daughter Barbara gave adult roles to her baby dolls, Ruth was inspired to create an adult-model doll for kids.
Thus was born Barbie, named after Ruth’s daughter (and later Ken, named after her son). Debuting in 1959, the dolls, and all their accessories, exploded onto the scene internationally. Within a short time, Mattel became the largest toy company in the world, a position it holds to this day. It includes the brands Fisher Price, Hot Wheels and Matchbox, and makes toys for Nintendo and DC (of Batman/Superman fame). Ruth Handler was the brains behind the success, serving as President of Mattel until 1973, when she resigned due to a battle with cancer. Inspired once more, she started a new company called Nearly Me, which helps women who’ve suffered from breast cancer, makes comfortable breast prostheses and post-mastectomy clothing and swimwear. Sadly, Ruth succumbed to colon cancer in 2002.
Words of the Week
…honey is one sixtieth of manna, Shabbat is one sixtieth of the World to Come, sleep is one sixtieth of death, a dream is one sixtieth of prophesy.
– Talmud, Berachot 57b