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Elliot Handler, toy maker and Mattel co-founder, dies at 95

July 22, 2011 |  1:12 pm

Handler Elliot Handler, a pioneering toy maker who co-founded Mattel and with his wife Ruth created the Barbie doll, died Thursday. He was 95.

The Handlers and their business partner, Harold Mattson, founded Mattel in 1945 and made gifts and toys. They produced their most successful product in 1959 when they introduced the Barbie doll, a plastic creation with an hour-glass figure that became a cultural icon. Barbie was named after the Handlers' daughter, and the Ken doll that followed was named for their son. 

Among the other toys that struck a chord with children of the era were the Uke-A-Doodle ukulele, the Burp gun and the Chatty Cathy talking doll

Elliot Handler, who was born in Illinois in April 19, 1916, attended what is now the Art Center College of Design, studying industrial design, and worked for a lighting manufacturer before he was drafted into the Army in 1943.

The Handlers left Mattel in 1975.

Ruth Handler died in 2002.

A full obituary will follow at Latimes.com/obits.

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-- Claire Noland

Photo: Elliot Handler, left, with his with Ruth, center, along with son Ken, daughter Barbara Segal and granddaughter Cheryl Segal in 1967. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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