Women’s History Month: Ruth Handler

From her garage to a multi billion dollar business, Ruth Handler is a business woman to be remembered. Ruth was born on November 2nd, 1916 in Denver, Colorado to Polish parents Jacob and Ida Moszkowicz. From an early age, Ruth had a passion for working and was interested in business. In 1932, Handler married her husband Elliot Handler and soon began running Mattel Inc. With him and colleague Harold Matson in 1945.

Soon, the Barbie doll was created in 1959, after Ruth’s daughter Barbara Handler was inspired by her love for putting her dreams on paper dolls. The Ken doll, named after Handler’s son Kenneth, came soon after. Sure enough, her dreams came true and the Barbie and Ken dolls were quite the hit. Business was booming, and Ruth was on top of the world until she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Unfortunately, her cancer diagnosis in 1970 led to her losing control of her business, which eventually led to her being forced out in 1975. Luckily, Handler survived and started a company called Nearly Me that created prosthetics for breast cancer survivors. Nearly Me exceeded 036;1 million, and was highly successful. In Ruth Handler’s 80s she developed colon cancer. She survived for 3 months, until she died of a failed colon surgery on April 27, 2002. Handler was a woman who inspired people all over the world with both Barbie, Ken, and her Nearly Me prosthetics. Ruth Handler remains a legendary business woman who never let obstacles get in the way of her success.