Greta Gerwig debunked a theory surrounding the identity of one actress in her much-anticipated Barbie movie, which hit theaters on July 21.
Following the film’s release, it was widely speculated that Barbara Handler, who inspired the Barbie doll, appeared in a scene with Margot Robbie’s titular character while relaxing on a park bench in Santa Monica, California.
The woman speaking to the Australian actress, 33, however, was actually costume designer Ann Roth, not the daughter of Mattel co-founder and Barbie inventor Ruth Handler.
While speaking about the Oscar-winning costume designer’s cameo, Gerwig told Rolling Stone: ‘I love that scene so much. And, the older woman on the bench is the costume designer Ann Roth.’
‘She’s a legend. It’s a cul-de-sac of a moment, in a way — it doesn’t lead anywhere,’ the director explained.
Setting the record straight: Greta Gerwig debunked a theory surrounding the identity of one actress in her much-anticipated Barbie movie, which hit theaters on July 21; seen earlier this month
Not accurate: Following the film’s release, it was widely speculated that Handler (pictured in 2002) appeared in a scene with Margot Robbie’s titular character while relaxing on a park bench in Santa Monica, California
After some suggested that she ‘could cut’ the moment, the Sacramento native, 39, said without the scene ‘the story would move on just the same’ and she wouldn’t know ‘what this movie is about.’
Handler in April spoke with TMZ about the highly-anticipated motion picture – which arrives in theaters Friday – saying she felt Robbie, 33, succeeded in playing the iconic character.
She also praised the extended cast of the Greta Gerwig-directed film, which includes Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Alexandra Shipp, Dua Lipa and John Cena.
Handler told the outlet that her mother Ruth, who died April 27, 2002 after surgery amid a battle with colon cancer, would be happily shocked to see the doll become the focal point of a big budget Hollywood film.
Ruth was the first president of Mattel, which she founded in 1945 with her husband Elliot Handler.
In inventing the Barbie doll, Ruth sought to bring to life the paper dolls Barbara played with. She opened up about coming up with the concept in her 1994 memoir Dream Doll: The Ruth Handler Story.
‘I discovered something very important: They were using these dolls to project their dreams of their own futures as adult women.… Wouldn’t it be great if we could take that play pattern and three-dimensionalize it?’ Ruth said of the paper dolls.
Ruth said in her book that her spouse Elliot and their former business partner Harold ‘Matt’ Matson were skeptical that the product would be a success.
Mistaken identity: While many believed that Barbara Handler was in the film, the woman in the scene was actually costume designer Ann Roth (seen above)
Opposite of Margot Robbie: While speaking about the Oscar-winning costume designer’s cameo, Gerwig told Rolling Stone : ‘I love that scene so much. And the older woman on the bench is the costume designer Ann Roth’
‘”Ruth, it won’t work,” I was told flatly,’ she said in the book.
She added that there was also pushback to capturing the character’s femininity via her shape.
‘I really think that the squeamishness of those designers – every last one of them male – stemmed mostly from the fact that the doll would have breasts,’ Ruth said. ‘Even Elliot, who has an uncanny knack for correctly predicting what others will buy, feared that no mother would buy her daughter a doll with a chest.’
In 1956, Handler noticed a novelty doll during a Switzerland vacation that bore a resemblance to her earlier idea.
Robbie leads the cast of the anticipated summer blockbuster based off the famed toy brand
She said, ‘Here were the breasts, the small waist, the long, tapered legs I had enthusiastically described for the designers all those years ago.’
She took one home and had Mattel VP Jack Ryan work on adapting the doll for a young American audience. The famous toy debuted on store shelves three years later, with 300,000 dolls sold in its first year, according to the company.
Mattel SVP of Barbie design Kim Culmone described to People how the idea wasn’t an easy sell at the end of the 1950s.
‘Ruth was able to sell Barbie in a toy industry that was hesitant to think of a doll that a girl could use to project her hopes and inspirations,’ Culmone said.
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