Originally from Willows, WI, he’s been a photographer, an Olympic gold medalist, a pizza delivery guy and a member of the military. He’s turning 50 today, and has recently reconciled with his long-time love after being apart for six years. He is…
Ken Carson. You know, Ken—Barbie’s main man!*
When I was a child, Ken was part of my Barbie family. He had brown molded plastic hair and a head that, disturbingly, popped off without warning. If I had needed a doll for regular decapitations, he would have been my go-to guy. When his head stayed on, and there was always some doubt about that, he was the perfect companion for Barbie in all her adventures.
Poor Ken had few wardrobe choices. I seem to recall some flowered bathing trunks, but I can’t remember what else he wore. (Maybe he was really Cabana Boy Ken?) My Barbie had a whole wardrobe, including shoes. I am not as well-dressed today as my Barbie was when I was 7. My most treasured items were handmade, 50s-style doll clothes someone had given to me.
Barbie and Ken traveled in a chic yellow and orange Country Camper, with Skipper, Barbie’s sister, and their daughter, a non-Mattel toddler-size doll who had miraculously come into being well before I had any idea of the actual process involved. I spent many happy hours playing with Barbie & Co. (when I wasn’t creating elaborate storylines for my Breyer model horses—that’s a story for another day), and I packed them carefully away when I left for college. I believe I would still have them if it weren’t for The Incident. On returning from college, all my Barbie stuff had “disappeared” from our garage. Frankly, I’m still suspicious about the circumstances of that disappearance. My mom swears she didn’t get rid of them, but, really, that’s the only thing the thieves took?! Come on. I could have had a real investment there: a quick check of eBay shows the camper alone selling for more than $200!
I still pine for Barbie and her pretty wardrobe, Decapitation Ken and, especially, the Country Camper. Never mind that my life (and my house) is filled with more grown-up toys, like laptops and piles of books and art supplies, not to mention I now have a real horse to replace my models. If I still had Barbie and Ken they'd likely be stored in the attic with the Christmas decorations and the silverfish—a sad comedown from their days as a free-wheeling, camper-driving team.
What was your favorite childhood toy? Do you still have it? What’s your favorite toy now?
*For more information on Ken, see manbehindthedoll.com.