Barbie’s Secret Past as Cartoon Lilli
Barbie made her debut in 1959 in New York. I was five years old at the time. Eventually, I got a blonde Barbie doll, that looked like this:
Barbie was based on a cartoon from the German Tabloid Newspaper, The Bild. (a paper of mostly pictures, ‘bild’ in German means picture.)
She looks more like a pin-up girl — long legs, small feet, buxom with a small waist and pouty lips. For sure, a man dreamed her up. She was named Lilli and she was a Sunday regular in the Hamburg Germany paper — just filling up some extra space. It was the 1950’s and 1960’s during post-war Germany. In 1953, the newspaper decided to market the femme-fatale cartoon as a doll.
In 1952, Reinhard Beuthian was commissioned to create a cartoon for the Bild-Zeitung newspaper. First he drew a baby; it was rejected; then he drew the bombshell babe, Lilli. She appeared in the paper on June 24, 1952 and was a big hit until her run ended on Jan 5, 1961.
One scene showed her sitting in a fortune teller’s tent and asking — “Can’t you tell me the name and address of this rich and handsome man?”
Another: A policeman told her that two-piece swimsuits were banned — which she answered, “Which piece do you want me to take off?”