On June 24, 1952 Lilli made her debut for the newspaper Bild-Zeitung in Hamburg, Germany as a cartoon character created by Reinhard Beuthien.
“I don’t want to be some amazing dame, it only means that I’m not allowed to do what I think is fun.” – Lilli
A few years later on August 12, 1955 Lilli became a doll. The Ruth Handler found Lilli in 1956. Her husband Elliot Handler and his business partner Harold “Matt” Matson formed a small company to manufacture picture frames, calling it “Mattel” by combining part of their names (“Matt” and “Elliot”).
Barbie debuted at the New York toy fair 3 years later on March 9, 1959. Mattel later acquired the rights to Lilli in 1964, stopping her production. She served as the president of the toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., and is remembered for her role in marketing the Barbie doll.
“Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future, If she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave it beautiful breasts.” – Ruth Handler a 1977 interview, as quoted in the obituary.