Baby Boomer Celebrity Survivor: What Happened To The Ken Doll?

Posted on March 8th, 2015 in 1950s,1960s,Celebrities,Collectibles,Fads & Toys,Fashion,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg


I’m the boomer “comeback kid,” although I’m hardly a kid anymore. Believe or not, the most collected male doll in pop culture celebrated his big 50.

I was born a teenager due to the miracle of modern plastics. I never had to search for my dream girl: Barbie Millicent Roberts and I were made for each other–literally.

After 43 wonderful years, we separated in what was called the break-up of the millennium. It wasn’t my idea. You’ll hear lot of stories, including that I was reluctant to get married. This is PR nonsense. Barbie and Mattel decided we should separate. I’m a company doll. I had no choice. At first, I thought, maybe this is a blessing in disguise. I mean, all my life I’ve lived in Barbie’s shadow. She got the adulation. I felt like a hanger-on. Often she traveled alone. People dismissed me as “eye candy.

There was always that innuendo…you know…comparing me to GI Joe and suggesting I was a preppy wuss. In response, I was muscled up as Superstar Ken in 1977. Then people said I looked like a Yuppie on steroids and no real boy could measure up to me. Some dolls just can’t win. Remember, I’m not always in control of my destiny. The 1993 version Earring Magic Ken with that open front leather vest isn’t the real me. It’s true I never had genitalia but, again, that wasn’t my choice. And it’s not the reason Barbie left me in 2004.


I drifted in limbo, execs considered “retiring me,” but I kept the faith. Then came Toy Story 3.

It did for me what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Barbie and I reconnected in the movie. I decided (along with my handlers at Mattel) to do a full court press to get Barbie back: professions of love on Facebook and Twitter—even national billboards.

I’m proud to say I was a leader in fads and fashion, but always with class. I was hip, but never a hippie. I was cool, but never a rebel.

Today, I sport a Justin Bieber look with loose locks, jeans and T-shirt, plus a Palm Beach Line. Barbie thinks it’s way cool. We are back together now, happier than ever.

“Reunited…and it feels so good.”


Trivia Factoids

 Barbie was named for the creator Ruth Handler’s daughter; boyfriend Ken after her son.

 A rare collectible Ken doll has been auctioned for $27,000.

♥ In 1976 Ken won four Gold Medals; two in Montreal, Canada (swimming, track) and two in Innsbruck, Austria (skiing, hockey).

 In 1970 the first African-American male doll in the Barbie universe was Brad – who was also Ken’s best buddy.


Most Popular Baby Boomer Dolls


1940s-1950s: BETSY WETSY

1950 on: TINY TEARS

1959 on: BARBIE/KEN (1961)



1963 on: TROLLS

1964 on: GI JOE



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