Keeping Ken  Keeping Ken Ken News!

"Ken«, He's a Doll!"  This was the first introduction in 1961 we heard from Mattel about Ken«, the future steady boyfriend of Barbie«, the teenage fashion model.  He was named after the son of Ruth and Elliot Handler; inventors of the Barbie« doll.

In 1961 he stood a tall twelve inches high and came with a flocked crew cut in brunette or blonde (M#:750).  He had a six-piece jointed body with painted blue eyes.  He wore red bathing trunks, cork sandals and came with a yellow towel.   Because his hair flock came off in water,  Mattel re-released him the following year with molded, painted hair instead (M#: 750 BD: 1962).   In 1963 he went through another metamorphous and was shortened by ╝ inch (M#: 750 BD: 1962).  His legs became a little heftier and leg joints looser.

Ken« brought to the world of Barbie« the possibility of adventure and romance. But, steady dating seems to be the result of this long lasting relationship.  One sad note; Ken« is only considered an "accessory" to Barbie« by Mattel... making him the ultimate "boy toy".

Ken« has garnered many images and scandal (Earring Magic Ken 1992); but to me he will always represent a healthy combination of innocence, boyish masculinity, playfulness and style.

FUN FACT!   Barbie« doll's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.  Did you know that Ken« doll's full name is...Ken Carson? No middle name was ever given.

  

ALLAN 1964-1965, Ken« doll's first friend.

  

BRAD, 1969 is Ken« doll's first African American friend.

TOMMY was introduced in 1996, and is Ken« doll's only family member in the Barbie« doll line.

Ken«'s Friends and Family

Friends

  • Allan (BD: 1964-65) Ken's buddy.
  • Alan (BD: 1990, 2002-Present) Married Midge.
  • Brad (BD: 1969) African American friend.
  • Curtis (BD: 1974) African American friend.
  • Todd (BD: 1982) Married Tracy.
  • Derek (BD: 1985-86) Rockers band member.
  • Steven (BD: 1987-Present) African American friend.
  • Blaine (BD:  1999-2000) Generation Girl member.
Ken«'s Friends and Family

Family

  • Tommy (BD: 1996-Present) Baby brother.

Above:   1963 stock #751 box of 24 replacement Ken« heads.

Ken's Boxed Careers

  Although he had many other career "outfits", these are the careers captured with him actually in them.

 

 

Ken is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc.   These pages are neither affiliated with, nor a representative of Mattel, Inc.   Material provided on these pages do not in any way reflect the opinions of Mattel, Inc.

Actor '63-'65 '74 '88 '99 Cowboy '80 '82 '89 '93 Impersonator '94 '95 '99 Roller Skater '80 '02
Alternative Lifestyle '92 Ice Skater '89 '97 '02
Airforce '93 Dancer '80 '88 '89 '91 '92 Lifeguard '94 Sailor '63-'65 '84 '92
Army '92 Doctor '63-'65 '87 '97 Marine '91 Soda Jerk '99
Basketball Player '89 Escort '82 '83 '85 '87 '91-'93 '96 '00 '01 '02 Motorcyclist '98 '99 Singer/Rock Star '70 '86 '87 '91 '99
Beach Bum '62 '64 '68 '69 '74 '78 '81-'85 '87-'89 '91-'97 '00 '01 '02 Football Player '63-'65 Olympic Gold Medallist '74 '97 Snow Skier '63-'65 '73 '90
Best Man '90 Fraternity Member '63-'65 Photographer '00 '01 Student '99
Birthday Boy '86 '01 Gymnast '83 Prince '89 '94 '97 '99 '00 '01 Tennis Player '63-'65 '74 '85
Body Builder '81 Hair Stylist '91 '92 '99 Pilot '89 Tourist '78 '83 '87 '88 '90 '93 '98 '99 '01 '02
Brother '96 '99 Jogger/Runner '79 '80 Pizza Delivery '88  
Campus Hero '63-'65 King '99 Roller Blader '91 '94  

 

 The Real Ken«...Ken Handler

Even in 1959, little girls were asking for a boy doll. No boy doll had ever made it in the US. Very few retailers ordered Kens when they first came out in 1961, but consumers wanted all they could get. Initially, Ruth argued for a "bulge" in Ken's groin, but the design team said no. Ken and Barbie were the same in that respect (a social commentary today, but at the time, a simple marketing decision). So it was that Ruth's son, Ken, took a lot of teasing for his missing piece of plastic at school. Even as little Kenny went through puberty, Ken (the doll) got the bulge too.
By the time the doll came out, Barbara was in her late teens. She wasn't interested in dolls, and she wasn't interested in the attention. The ordeal was painful for her, especially with mom spending most of her time at the office. Barbara felt like a freak. She insisted on never being called "Barbie" again, so we don't. She has curly red-brunette hair, freckles, and a great smile. She married a man named Allan Segal when she was only 19. Ken married a nurse named Suzie. Neither Ken nor Barbara ever had a job. They were productive, interesting people. Barbara had a small boutique in Beverly Hills for a while, raised two children (Cheryl and Todd), got divorced, and has been going out with a very nice guy named Howard for a long time now. She plays a lot of golf, is an excellent golfer, and is on the board of Hillcrest Country Club. She has always been thin and in good shape. She has led the private life she wanted to lead, after having a mother who was more "Barbie's Mom" than her mom.
Barbara's daughter, Cheryl, has sold real estate and held a few jobs, but decided to go back to Pepperdine to get a law degree. She recently passed the California BAR exam. Her brother, Todd (there was a kid-doll named after him) now runs a Bed and Breakfast and organic farm in Massachusetts.
Ken Handler was, among many other things, gifted musician. Kenny played several instruments, was very well read, and pursued many endeavors. He often performed feats on the piano, but seldom for public audiences. He was, "A real gentleman. The kind of guy you found in the last century, not this one." In 1982, Ken and Suzie moved to Manhattan, where they lived on Central Park with their three kids. Ken wrote music and plays for his own pleasure. He enjoyed New York society. He loved life on the streets. In the mid-eighties, when rap music was just taking off, Ken wrote, directed, and produced a small film called "Delivery Boys", about the lives of several rappers. You can find it at specialty video stores.

Delivery Boys
Starring: Mario Van Peebles , Joss Marcano , Tom Sierchio and Jim Soriero . Directed by Ken Handler

A bizarre comedy about three pizza delivery boys who spend their off-hours competing in break dance contests. On the night of the final competition, they are waylaid by hookers, ex-Nazi doctors, and crazy sculptors.


A gang of boys under the Brooklyn Bridge are united by their common interest in break dancing. Some work as pizza delivery boys, hence they call themselves the "Delivery Boys". They form a dance team and enter a local break dance contest, sponsored by a woman's panty manufacturer. A rival gang's sponsor intimidates their employer into thinking she must keep the boys working so they won't be harmed. She gives the boys some "specialized" deliveries to make them late for the contest. The antics and calamities abound as the boys wrestle with her work assignments and getting to the contest on time.


Kenny was charming, a good husband, and a great dad. He was a citizen of the world. He gave a lot of money to charities, among them an organization looking for new cures for cancer. As the story goes, on an expedition to Africa with this group, he somehow contracted encephalitis. Sadly, he was in a coma for a few weeks and died the afternoon of his daughter's wedding - as Jewish tradition holds, a wedding does not stop, even for the death of a father.