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Barbie Millicent Roberts (yes, she has a full name) debuted in 1959 as a “teenage fashion model,” representing the Old Hollywood glamour of icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. She cost $3 (her outfits ranged from $1 to $5!), and 300,000 dolls were sold in the first year.
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With her mod look and bubble-cut hairstyle, Barbie was the grooviest doll around. More notably, in 1969 the first black Barbie doll, Christie, was introduced by Mattel.
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California vibes were the theme for the '70s, when Malibu Barbie (1971) and Malibu Christie (1973) ruled the sand and surf in chic one-pieces.
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Released in 1980, “African-American” Barbie became the first black Barbie since Christie. Five years later, Day to Night Barbie was on a mission to break through the glass ceiling as a “briefcase-carrying power executive by day” who was “date-night ready by night.”
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Totally Hair Barbie (1992) had blonde tresses that grazed her ankles and a neon mini that barely covered her backside. In 1999, Mattel released the Y2K-ready “Generation Girl” Barbie, who never left home without her denim jacket.
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Jewel Girl Barbie sported “natural-looking makeup, a more athletic physique, a bendable, flexible waist” and Barbie's first belly button! The turn of the century was huge for everyone.
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Those of us who played with Barbie in the '90s never got the chance to meet Raquelle — Barbie's brunette frenemy who was always trying to steal Ken and lived in her very own dream house. As for Entrepreneur Barbie (2014), she's never without her iPhone (we can relate).
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THE NEXT GENERATION
Mattel has given Barbie a 21st-century makeover as part of its 2016 #TheDollEvolves campaign. She now comes in curvy, petite and tall frames and in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. Her closet also got a makeover — the outfit options are endless!
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Ken first debuted as Barbie's main man in 1961 — and he was a brunette! While his hair has changed through the years (pictured here in 1961, 1978, 1984, 1992, 2010), those piercing blue eyes have stayed exactly the same. Swoon!