|From||United States of America|
|Birth||9 April 1916, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A.|
|Death||21 July 2011, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 95 years)|
Elliot Handler (April 9, 1916 – July 21, 2011) was an American inventor, businessman, and co-founder of Mattel. With his wife, he developed some of the biggest-selling toys in American history, including Barbie, Chatty Cathy, Creepy Crawlers, and Hot Wheels.
Handler was born to a Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois, on April 9, 1916, and grew up in Denver, Colorado. He studied industrial design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1929, he met his future wife Ruth Mosko at a B'nai B'rith dance for teenagers. They later married and had two children: a daughter, Barbara who is the namesake of Barbie dolls; and a son, Kenneth (who died of a brain tumor in 1994) who was the namesake of Ken dolls. While a struggling art student and designer of light fixtures, Handler partnered with Harold Matson, to design a realistic-looking miniature piano that earned roughly 300,000 orders, however, they mispriced the product and lost a dime on each one produced.
Mattel was named after business partners Harold Matson and Elliot Handler. Elliot's wife, Ruth, took over Matson's role when the Handlers bought out his share in the late 1940s. Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the Barbie doll that debuted in 1959 and which Ruth named after their daughter Barbara Handler. The Barbie doll is still one of the top-selling dolls. Mattel introduced the talking Chatty Cathy doll in 1960. The Handlers had made a tradition of naming their toys after family members and when Barbara Handler married Allan Segal, they came out with Allan, Ken's buddy. The 1965 talking doll Baby Cheryl was named after the Handler's first grandchild, and the Todd doll in the Barbie line was named for their grandson.
Elliot Handler is credited with developing the first talking doll, Chatty Cathy, using a pull string talking mechanism which revolutionized the toy industry. Mattel thereafter went on to develop a number of talking toys including Chatty Baby, Tiny Chatty Baby, and Charmin' Chatty. Toys made for cartoon favorites such as Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig; and toys made for television characters such as Herman Munster and Mr. Ed. Elliot Handler was primarily responsible for two additional Mattel product lines. In 1966, Mattel introduced smaller dolls called Liddle Kiddles. Handler claimed he wanted them to resemble little children in neighborhoods across America. They were sculpted by doll artist Martha Armstrong-Hand. Kiddles were a great success and continued to be produced in different versions until the early 1970s. Another product line was Hot Wheels, introduced in 1968, which gave rise to 10,000 different models.
Originally called Mattel Creations, it has gone on to become the largest toy maker in the world. In April 2008, Handler was honored by Mattel with a 90th birthday party at its headquarters in El Segundo, California. Guests included his daughter Barbara Segal, after whom the Barbie doll was named.
Handler died of heart failure at home in Century City, a district of Los Angeles, California, at age 95 on July 21, 2011. Ruth Handler died in 2002. He was survived by his 70-year-old daughter Barbara.