50 Influential Jews: Influential Toy Innovators - No. 19

Ynon Kreiz made Barbie came back. Ruth Handler, z"l, would have been proud of it.

 Ynon Kreiz and Ruth Handler (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ynon Kreiz and Ruth Handler
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Ynon Kreiz and Ruth Handler, of blessed memory, a dynamic duo celebrated together although from different generations, hold a distinctive place among the world’s most influential Jews due to their profound impact on the entertainment and business landscape.

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Ruth Handler

Handler, the pioneering mind behind the iconic Barbie doll – the inspiration for this year’s blockbuster, record-breaking Barbie movie – revolutionized the concept of play and self-expression. Her creation of the Barbie doll in 1959 was not just a business endeavor but a reflection of her belief in empowering young girls. Though often criticized for its perpetuation of unrealistic body standards for young girls and women, Barbie undoubtedly reshaped the toy industry – and some argue that it played a pivotal role in breaking gender stereotypes and encouraging girls to dream big and pursue diverse aspirations.

Ynon Kreiz

Ynon Kreiz, born and raised in Israel and the current CEO of Mattel, which Handler co-founded in 1945, carries forward her legacy by driving innovation and transformation. Under Kreiz’s leadership, Mattel has embraced modernization, leveraging technology to connect with new generations. Kreiz has upheld Handler’s vision while adapting to evolving societal values and demands by reimagining classic brands and introducing diverse and inclusive representation in their toys.

Together, Kreiz and Handler symbolize the bridge between tradition and progress. Their collaborative influence extends beyond toys, as they have inspired global creativity, curiosity, and aspiration in young minds, leaving an enduring mark on both the business world and the lives they touch.