Battle of the dolls: Barbie vs Marie

Posted December 31, 2009

Battle of the dolls: Barbie vs Marie

One is a ‘plastic-fantastic’ doll brought to life on the New York catwalk, the other is a showbiz trouper who creates dolls in her own image. Both turned 50 this year.

Barbie celebrated her 50th anniversary in style earlier this year with a special catwalk show dedicated just to her during New York Fashion Week. Models were elaborately styled to look like real life versions of the iconic doll. It truly was a case of life imitating art (well, maybe art is pushing it a bit!) Even more bizarrely, the show featured one-off outfits designed by America’s fashion elite, with names such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg all contributing. That’s quite an endorsement for a doll.

Barbie burst on to the scene back in 1959. Dressed in a black and white zebra-print sequinned swimsuit, sporting a pneumatic 40DD bust and an improbably tiny waist, her blonde hair swept back in a pony tail, she was an instant hit. She’s had an action-packed half century since then and yet she still looks as fresh faced as when she first appeared – no need for Botox when you’re made entirely of plastic!

Marie Osmond, also an American icon, first hit the charts when she was 13 with her country pop single ‘Paper Roses’. With her long, glossy tresses and dazzling smile, she was the clean living, sweet as apple pie 70s version of Cheryl Cole. She stole the hearts of both the American and British public. Since then she has gone on to appear in concerts with her famous brothers, front her own talk show and pursue a successful acting career. More recently she has appeared on British television, along with her brother Donny in An Audience With Donny and Marie, as a tribute to her continued popularity.

Marie, who turned 50 in October, celebrated her birthday on stage in Las Vegas where she’s been headlining a live show with her brother Donny to rave reviews.  Las Vegas stage versus the New York catwalk? I reckon Marie could give Barbie a run for her money in the glam stakes any day.

Marie has worked hard to maintain her showbiz credentials, reinventing herself several times over. Barbie, on the other hand, has shown little consistency, flitting from one profession to another. In fact Barbie has clocked up a staggering total of over 100 careers, including stints as a doctor, astronaut, an FBI agent and commercial airline pilot.

But unlike Marie Osmond, she can’t boast her own line of dolls. Oh, hang on a minute, she is a doll. Stay with me because this is where it starts to get confusing….. Marie has her own line of collectible dolls in her own image - but more saccharine sweet with a folksy appeal - which she sells through the QVC channel. Marie Osmond’s dolls have consistently achieved outstanding sales turnover results . She has clearly tapped into a lucrative market.

Barbie, on the other hand continues to market herself to great success. Fifty years on and she is as popular as ever. In fact, Mattel, her manufacturer claims that three Barbie’s are sold every second. 

 Both Barbe and Marie may have achieved entrepreneurial success but their private lives haven’t always lived up to expectations. Despite her success, Marie’s life has not all been a bed of roses. She temporarily walked out on her family after the birth of her seventh child in 1999, before being diagnosed for severe depression.  She has also spoken openly of her mid-life crisis and how, following her divorce from her husband of twenty years, she appeared on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ to help work through her issues.

Barbie finally split from her long term boyfriend, Ken (there have been rumours for many years about his sexual orientation) and she shows no signs of settling down. I haven’t heard of any plans to feature in any reality shows but you never know. I’m sure Barbie could capture many a public vote in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

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