Barbie at 50: is Mattel's star still in fashion?

Fri Mar 6, 2009 7:46pm EST
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By Aarthi Sivaraman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barbie, the iconic doll that has claimed countless hours of girls' lives in a make-believe world that mirrored real life glamour, high-fashion and fabulous careers, is turning 50.

But is her star fading?

Some people say Mattel's doll that has had such "careers" as astronaut, Army medic, scuba diver, pediatrician and presidential candidate, has run her course.

"It's very clear that the taste of little girls who play with dolls has changed," said Jerry Oppenheimer, author of a book on Mattel called 'Toy Monster.'

"They have come into the 21st century, where they play on their own laptops, and have their own cell phones. Dolls will be a part of their lives ... and Barbie will be part of that, but it will be a small window."

Introduced at a toy fair in New York City on March 9, 1959 as a teenage fashion model, Barbie, whose full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts, cost $3.

With her shapely figure, carefully styled pony tail and curly bangs, strapless black and white geometric bathing suit and spiked heels, Barbie was at once an instant rage and outrageous.

At a time when "Leave It to Beaver" was depicting the so-called "All-American Family" and June Cleaver never showed any cleavage, Barbie created her share of controversy.   Continued...

<p>Barbie dolls sit on a display before the Barbie house opening ceremony in Shanghai March 6, 2009.REUTERS/Aly Song</p>