In 1959, Barbie Millicent Roberts from (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin was introduced to a skeptical toy industry at the New York Toy Fair. A gallon of gas was 25 cents, the average annual wage was $5,000 and the #1 Ponytail Barbie sold for $3. Additional fashions based on the latest runway trends from Paris ranged from $1 to $5. In the first year, 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold.
REFLECTION OF THE TIMES
Barbie’s debut as the “teenage fashion model” mirrored the sophisticated glamour of 1950s stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor, donning high arched brows, pursed red lips, a sassy pony tail with curly bangs and a coy, sideways glance. Even her figure was high fashion and model-esque, with pale, ivory skin, long slim legs and a narrow waist and hips. Barbie – though well known for her blonde locks – was sold as both a brunette and blonde.
The first female astronaut, Russian Valentina Tereshkova surfaced in 1963 and Barbie soon followed, celebrating the excitement of the space program while showing girls that any career is within reach. Four years later in 1969, the first American man landed on the moon.
As fast as 60s fashions evolved, so did Barbie from her famous bouffant bubble-cut hairstyle and fashions that mirrored First Lady Jackie Kennedy to the sleek hair and clothes of the multi-colored, swirling Mod era.
In 1960 Barbie sported softer looking eye makeup, a less arched eyebrow and blue irises for the first time. Also, Barbie was offered in a third hair color – “Titian”, a popular term for red hair at the time (1961).
Her long lists of “firsts” also began with the introduction of Miss Barbie who featured “sleep eyes” that opened and closed, as well as the first time Barbie had bendable legs