Several of you mentioned the other day that Valeria, the Russian dingbat from my last post, reminded you more of a sex doll rather than Barbie.
Well, did you know Barbie was based on a sex toy?
I came across this information while at a toy museum a few years ago. The museum was having a special Barbie exhibit, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the doll.
Imagine my surprise, when I discovered Barbie was well...a rip-off.
This is the original Barbie Doll from 1959.
This is the Lilli doll, a popular German sex toy, in 1950.
Lilli was an immensely popular cartoon character in Germany during 1950s. The blonde, baby-faced 20-something-year-old secretary was sassy, brazen, materialistic, and vain. She slept with men for expensive meals and handbags. She played dumb when challenged by authority. Male readers loved her.
The magazine which ran the Lilli comic strip decided to make a doll out of its famous sex symbol. The doll was created with a racy hour-glass figure and a sexy red pout. She wore cute little night club clothes. The sex toy was sold at adult stores and tobacco shops as a gag gift.
But the lecherous men who enjoyed the comic strip could have cared less about the doll. To the magazine's astonishment, the Lilli doll became a sensation among little girls. They adored buying new clothes for Lilli and brushing her golden locks.
But parents didn't like going to sex shops to buy their daughters' favorite new toy, so the doll started being sold everywhere. Accessories, clothes, and doll houses were also made available.
In the mid-1950s, Ruth Handler, the wife of a Mattel co-founder, took a trip to Germany with her daughters. She spotted the Lilli doll and bought a few to take home. In 1959, she debuted her new teenage fashion doll Barbie to the American public.
It would become the most famous toy in the world.
Did you know about Barbie's German predecessor, Lilli?