Happy birthday Ken! Barbie’s beau turns 60

March 17, 2021 - 11:02 AM
An advertisement image of 1978 shows Mattel's Barbie and Ken dolls. (Mattel/via Reuters)

NEW YORK —  Ken, fashion doll Barbie‘s long-term companion, turned 60 last March 11, celebrating the milestone birthday with a return to his original look.

Toymaker Mattel has recreated a version of the first Ken doll, dressed in red swimming trunks, sandals and carrying a yellow towel on his shoulders.

Ken, who was named after the son of Mattel founders Elliot and Ruth Handler, first met Barbie on the set of a television commercial in 1961.

Over the years, he has had multiple makeovers as well as careers, ranging from firefighter to barista. He now counts nine skin tones, three body shapes, 10 eye colors and different hairstyles and hairtypes. There is also a Ken doll in a wheelchair.

“While he evolved in terms of style, (he) was very mod and groovy in the 60s, he had a stash in the 70s … now it’s more about … different hair textures and hairstyles, different skin colours, as well as representing different abilities,” Barbie senior design director Robert Best told Reuters.

Ken has also been styled by designers Dapper Dan and Tan France as well as Berluti Creative Director Kris Van Assche in various outfits for the occasion. —Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky