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Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her
Synopses & Reviews
“Barbie and her creator, the sharp-elbowed gal who built the biggest toy company, have a story to tell.”
Barbie and Ruth by Ruth Gerber is the remarkable true story of the worlds most famous toy and the woman who created her. It is a fascinating account of how one visionary woman and her product changed an industry and sparked a lasting debate about womens roles. At once a business book, a colorful portrait of an extraordinary female entrepreneur, and a breathtaking look at a cultural phenomenon, Barbie and Ruth is a must read for anyone who ever owned a Barbie doll—a book Publishers Weekly calls, “a stirring biography…a fine study of success and resilience.”
"Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Barbie is this behind-the-scenes look at her eccentric, determined inventor. Ruth Handler (1916 — 2002)was the ambitious and entrepreneurial 10th child of poor Polish immigrants. Disappointed with the unsophisticated dolls of the time, Ruth envisioned a doll that would allow young girls to act out their fantasies of the stylish young women they wanted to become. She modeled her creation on the Swiss doll 'Bild-Lilli,' a curvaceous plastic bombshell originally sold as a sex toy/gag gift and named her after her daughter Barbara. Handler fought indefatigably to establish herself in a male-dominated field, and history was made: 50 years later, Mattel is the biggest toy company in the world, and Barbie is sold at a rate of three dolls per second, worldwide. But Handler's rising star was short-lived; battered by breast cancer and convicted of shady business dealings in 1978, she wrenched her attentions away from Mattel and devoted herself to creating realistic, affordable prosthetic breasts for women who had lost one to a mastectomy. This stirring biography is a fine study of success and resilience." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Barbie and Ruth is the entwined story of two exceptional women. There's Barbie: the diminutive yet arrestingly voluptuous doll unveiled at the 1959 Toy Fair who became the treasure of 90 percent of American girls and their counterparts in 150 countries. She went on to compete as an Olympic athlete, serve as an air force pilot, work as a boutique owner, run as a presidential candidate, and ignite a cultural firestorm.
And then there's Ruth Handler, Barbie's creator: the tenth child of Polish Jewish immigrants, a passionately competitive and creative business pioneer, and a mother and wife who wanted it all. After a business scandal that forced Ruth out of Mattel, the company she founded, she drew on her experience as a breast cancer survivor to start a business that changed women's lives. She was ultimately honored as a pioneer, humanitarian, and masterful entrepreneur.
Based on original research, extensive interviews, and previously unavailable material, Barbie and Ruth tells the fascinating story of how two women forever changed American business and culture.
About the Author
Robin Gerber is the author of several books, including Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, Katharine Graham, and the novel Eleanor vs. Ike. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.
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Biography » Business