On this day in history, March 9, 1959, Barbie makes her world fashion debut at the New York Toy Fair

Enjoying a unique distinction as both a wildly successful children’s toy and a global style icon, Barbie made her world stage debut on this historic day, March 9, 1959.

Free-spirited, brunette and 11½ inches tall, Barbie wore a black and white zebra-striped swimsuit and large sunglasses, with her long hair — blonde or brunette — in a casual beach ponytail at the North American Fifth Avenue International Fashion Show in New York .

Experts were not impressed by the adult woman who was a doll for young girls.

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But the girls of America, and then the world, soon proved the experts wrong.

“Toy buyers were skeptical because Barbie didn’t look like the baby and toddler dolls popular at the time,” toymaker Mattel writes in an online history of its most famous and even more profitable product.

An original No. 1 Barbie, right, made in 1959 is shown with a collection of Barbie dolls before it goes on sale at Christie’s in London on August 21, 2006. (Michael Crabtree/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“They doubted she would be successful, but Barbie took the world by storm, letting girls imagine their future like never before.”

The first Barbie dolls cost $3 each.

Mattel sold 300,000 in the first year alone.

“I wanted to create a doll that would show girls … that they could be anything.” — Mattel founder Ruth Handler

The company has shipped more than one billion Barbie dolls in the six-plus decades since, with consumers purchasing approximately 58 million dolls annually.

Barbies today go for $10.99 to $55 each on Mattel.com — with the most coveted of all time fetching six figures at auction.

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“I wanted to create a doll that would show girls … that they could be anything,” Barbie creator Ruth Handler, who founded Mattel Inc., is often quoted as saying. with her husband Elliott Handler in 1945.

Barbie broke barriers and conquered new worlds.

Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Inc.  and inventor of the Barbie doll, is seen introducing the special 40th anniversary Barbie at a 1999 press conference in New York.

Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Inc. and inventor of the Barbie doll, is seen introducing the special 40th anniversary Barbie at a 1999 press conference in New York. (MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)

Astronaut Barbie was launched in 1965, four years before men reached the moon.

CEO Barbie ruled the boardroom in 1985.

President Barbie was sworn in in 1992.

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Barbie was joined in the toy aisles by a male companion, Ken, in 1961. The world welcomed Black and Hispanic Barbies in 1980.

Barbie and Ken were named after the Handlers’ real-life children, Barbara and Kenneth.

Ruth Handler was inspired to create a children’s doll during a trip she took to Germany in the 1950s.

Visitors browse Mattel Inc.'s flagship store.  Barbie during a media preview in Shanghai, China, Friday, February 20, 2009.

Visitors browse Mattel Inc.’s flagship store. Barbie during a media preview in Shanghai, China, Friday, February 20, 2009. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“She saw the Bild Lilli doll, which was an adult doll based on comic books,” writes Swedish auction house Barnebys magazine in a comprehensive history of “the world’s most popular doll.”

Handler pitched the idea to her husband – and Barbie soon hit the catwalks of the toy world. But not without legal drama.

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Adds Barnebys, “The inventors of the Bild Lilli doll sued Mattel for copyright infringement, but Mattel ended up buying the rights to Bild Lilli in 1963 for $21,600 (equivalent to over $200,000 today).

Jewelery designer Stefano Canturi poses with the world's most expensive Barbie doll at the launch of the Barbie Basics Collection during Rosemount Australian Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010-2011 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay on May 4, 2010 in Sydney, Australia .  Barbie, with real diamonds, fetched $302,500 at auction.

Jewelery designer Stefano Canturi poses with the world’s most expensive Barbie doll at the launch of the Barbie Basics Collection during Rosemount Australian Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010-2011 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay on May 4, 2010 in Sydney, Australia . Barbie, with real diamonds, fetched $302,500 at auction. (Robert Gray/Getty Images)

Mattel provides a detailed biography of Barbie: Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, she is from Willows, Wisconsin, where she attended high school, and her favorite color is her own unique shade of “Barbie pink.”

The most expensive Barbie on record, licensed by Mattel for Australian jewelry designer Stefano Kanduri, fetched $302,500 at auction — donated to breast cancer research.

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The most elegant of all Barbies wore a necklace set with real Australian pink emeralds.

An Andy Warhol portrait of Barbie, created for fashion designer BillyBoy, was sold by Christie’s in 2014 for $1.1 million.

A picture taken on March 10, 2016 in Paris shows a Barbie doll holding an election-related poster reading

A photo taken on March 10, 2016 in Paris shows a Barbie doll holding an election-related poster reading ‘Barbie for President’, during the exhibition ‘Barbie, life of an icon’ at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. More than 700 Barbie dolls were displayed during an exhibition that year in 2016. (MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP via Getty Images)

Barbie has remained relevant throughout the decades without losing her timeless appeal as a fashion trendsetter and a role model of aspiration for the women of the future.

“Unlike most dolls at the time, Barbie was an adult—a teenage model who could date, drive and wear great clothes,” writes the National Museum of American History.

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“While often criticized for her unrealistic body proportions and promoting gender stereotypes, Barbie has also evolved over time to reflect social and cultural changes in American culture,” the same source said.

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