MembersRuth & Elliot Handler: Parents of Barbie

The Barbie doll can be found in almost every child’s playroom.

By Dov Eilon |
Photo: Public domain

But did you know that what is perhaps the most famous toy in the world was invented by a Jewish couple?

Born in 1916 in Denver, Ruth Marianna Mosko was the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland. She married her school friend Elliot Handler, son of a Jewish family. They met each other at a B’nai B’rith event for Jewish teens.

The couple started their business career by producing furniture made of new types of plastic. Elliot had a business partner named Harold Matson, and together they founded “Mattel,” a combination of parts of both their names. They first produced plastic picture frames, then furniture for dollhouses, which were much easier to sell. Mattel soon transitioned into a toy company that was to become the second largest toy manufacturer in the world.

The Handlers had two children, Barbara and Kenneth. As Ruth watched her daughter roll-playing with paper dolls, she noticed that the child had difficultly keeping clothes on her creations. Ruth...

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