The SEC was not Ruth’s only adversary. When Mattel’s troubles began, Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a radical mastectomy. Attitudes toward breast cancer victims and the surgery itself changed Ruth, robbing her of her vitality. Once she and Elliot were no longer involved with their beloved toy business, Elliot happily retired to a life of painting, while Ruth began another venture. Her experiences with prosthetics were so demoralizing that she knew the market could only be improved. She developed a prosthetic breast for mastectomy patients, Nearly Me, then went about the difficult task of starting up a new manufacturing company and marketing her product. She did all of this while enduring great pain resulting from her surgery and spending inordinate time with the attorneys who were working on her SEC case.
As in most families, tragedy visited the Handlers in various forms. Ruth greeted it with the same fierce determination she channeled for business challenges; she just had to go on. Barbie and Ruth chronicles the life of Ruth Handler from birth to death, introducing us to a remarkable woman who brought revolutionary change to the toy industry, joy and dignity to cancer victims, and happiness to children, while forcing open doors of opportunity for women. Handler did not surmount barriers, she battered them down. She was loved, hated, tolerated, and emulated.
Ruth Handler was an extraordinary human being who gave the world something more than a doll with breasts. She gave us permission to make our dreams come true.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Barbie and Ruth? You bet, it’s fascinating from start to finish.