Many years later, when I moved into my first apartment in Baltimore, in 1973, I brought along my sister's neglected ash-blonde, bubble-cut Barbie doll, and along with an eclectic assortment of other artifacts, I mounted it on the wall as an "objet d'art". One day, when my sister came to visit, she was livid that I had absconded with her doll, and she snatched it off the wall when she left. That was the last that I ever saw of it. I have no idea whether or not she still has it. Although she had been happy enough to share her dolls with me when we were children, she certainly had no intention of letting keep one of them when I was eighteen, and I must admit, I did not blame her.
By 1979, I was living in Los Angeles, and one night, cruising in Boystown along Santa Monica Boulevard, I noticed a handful of Barbie dolls attired in glamorous gowns displayed in the window of an apartment building. It was magical and I was enchanted. I knew right away that I had to have my own Barbie doll immediately.
So the following day, I went out to buy one. I do not recall where I went in my search; perhaps a toy store or maybe Woolworth's. However, I do remember how horrified I was to behold what a hideous transformation had befallen my cherished childhood Barbie doll. The dolls that I had seen in the apartment house windows in Hollywood were the same ponytails, bubble-cuts, and T&T mods with which I was familiar. I had no idea that Mattel no longer manufactured these dolls, and that the Barbie doll had been modified beyond recognition. The glamour was gone! What was now called a "Barbie doll" was an orange-colored thing with a huge rib cage and arms that were permanently bent at the elbows. Most alarming was the grinning, grimacing, maniacal child's face with enormous, deranged eyes. Years later, I would learn that this ickety face was called, by Mattel, the "superstar" face. I was appalled. Throughout the 1980's, Mattel continued to make ugly blonde Barbie dolls with too much hair. But by the end of the decade, quite by chance, I spotted a winsome black Barbie doll named "Dee Dee". This charming doll became my first as an adult collector.