Ruth Handler: She brought us Barbie
The American dream comes in many shapes and colors, limited only by one's imagination and work ethic. Ruth Handler, the daughter of poor Russian-Jewish èmigrès, is a prime example. She turned a Swiss toy sex doll into a quintessentially American icon -- Barbie -- one so well-known that more than a billion have been sold. Barbie is so much a part of the American landscape that in 1976, she was included in the American bicentennial time capsule. The voyage from humble beginnings to great wealth, and the creation of Mattel Inc., a company with sales exceeding $5 billion, was not smooth sailing. It began in fairly rough waters. Ruth was born in 1916 in Denver, the 10th child of parents so poor that they sent her to live with her oldest sister, Sarah. Sarah's husband owned a drugstore and they were of comfortable means. In 1932, on her 16th birthday, Ruth got a new Ford coupe from Sarah. And while driving her new car, Ruth met her kindred spirit, Izzy Handler, a poor art student.