Barbara Handler wasn’t the only child of Ruth and Elliot Handler who took exception to having a Barbie doll bearing their name. The Ken doll, released in 1961, was named after Handlers’ son, Kenneth Handler, and he had mixed feelings about the toy line.
Like the life of the doll named after his sister, Barbara, Kenneth Handler said he could not relate to the backstory invented for the doll that took his name. “[The] Ken doll is Malibu. He goes to the beach and surfs,” Kenneth Handler told the LA Times in 1989. “He is all these perfect American things.”
On the flipside, Kenneth Handler told the LA Times that in reality he “went to movies with subtitles” and played piano as a high schooler. “I was a nerd — a real nerd,” he recalled for the publication. “All the girls thought I was a jerk.”
Kenneth Handler, who had two daughters at the time he did the interview with the LA Times, said he would have been open to introducing them to the world of Barbie. “If they had asked for them, I would have bought the dolls for them,’ he told the newspaper. “But they never did” he noted, since they wanted stuffed animals instead.