Barbie & Ken Broke Up 20 Years Ago. The Drama Explained

Ken and Barbie breakup
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There was a time when it seemed it was Ken’s destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility with Barbie by his side. Back in 2004, just days before Valentine’s Day, Mattel shared the sad news that iconic couple Barbie and Ken had broken up. The most perfect plastic pair had been together for 43 years when the surprising split was announced. Mattel said that it was just time for the two dolls to spend some time apart, with some hints pointing to Ken’s avoidance of the marriage subject. Other rumors said that Barbie had to focus on her ever-growing cycle of careers.

Around the same time, Mattel released the new Cali Girl Barbie, and her group of pals including the hunky Blaine, an Australian boogie boarder. Soon, Barbie and Blaine became a couple and Ken was on social media trying to win his beloved back.

 A Barbie doll and a Ken doll are displayed during an exceptional exhibition dedicated to the Barbie doll at "La Nef des jouets" on March 8, 2019 in Soultz-Haut-Rhin, France. On this occasion Tina Brettnacher a Barbie doll collector presents some of her rarest and oldest barbie dolls of her collection. Barbie, the most popular model doll in the world celebrates her 60th birthday. On March 9, 1959, Ruth Handler, an American businesswoman marketed the first "model doll," named Barbie in tribute to her daughter Barbara who used paper dolls to create her own role-playing games. She has been president of toy manufacturer Mattel Inc which has been selling the Barbie doll since its inception. The exhibition will take place from March 9 to June 30, 2019

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A few years later, Mattel gave Ken a complete makeover and said that he had changed. It seems that the time apart worked well for the dolls, as they got back together in 2011 and Mattel released a set of wedding-themed Ken and Barbie.

Ryan Gosling as Ken, Margot Robbie as Barbie, 2023

Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Some say that the breakup was also in hopes of revitalizing the doll’s images and competing with Bratz dolls, who started becoming popular in the early 2000s. Obviously, it was a marketing ploy to gain interest in the dolls and in many ways, it worked. So many years later, Barbie is still at the forefront of people’s minds, as is evident with the recent success of the Barbie film, which explores the complicated relationship between Barbie and Ken.

A portrait of Ruth and Elliott Handler, the couple who introduced the Barbie doll in 1959, holding a Barbie and Ken doll. The couple will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Doll Reader magazine.

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Ironically enough, if you look into the history of Barbie and Ken, they were actually named after siblings. Creator Ruth Handler named the dolls after her children, Barbara and Ken. Ken was released two years after Barbie came out in 1959 when consumers requested a boyfriend for the doll. Handler was always using inspiration from her family for the dolls, as the doll Allan is named after her son-in-law. Tell us, what do you think about the Barbie and Ken breakup and reunion?

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