It’s an all too familiar story. So familiar in fact, that perhaps it’s not that shocking at all.
From humble beginnings, to rich and famous, to an out-of-control spiral of self-destruction, the rise of a celebrity is all-too-often followed by a crash landing. The strangest thing about Barbie’s story could be that she managed to stay above the miry pit of Hollywood hell for so long.
But it’s over now, and Barbie is heading back home to a place where her true friends and loyal fans hope she can find herself again. That place is Willows, Wisconsin.
How much do you really know about your favorite famous person? Only the most die-hard followers of Barbie know about her early days.
Barbie is among a small group of stars recognized by one name – Oprah, Madonna, Cher…and Barbie. Her full name is Barbara Milicent Roberts. She was born and raised in the small town of Willows, Wisconsin.
Growing Up Barbie
Barbie’s parents, George and Margaret Robert still live in Willows, and people there speak highly of the couple.
The Roberts family is described by many as “friendly folk” who were active in the close-knit community. You can read a detailed description of Barbie’s early life on the fan site BarbiGirl.com.
According to the site, George met Margaret while attending UW Wisconsin where he played football for the Badgers and was active in drama club. When he spotted Maggie at the ice cream parlor where he worked – it was love at first sight.
George would go on to become an architect, while Barbie’s mother had an eye for fashion and would send designs off to New York City. She had a profound influence on her daughter and wanted all the Roberts children to look their best at all times.
While Barbie herself has always painted a portrait of her parents as nothing but supportive, her sister Skipper tells it a different way.
“Mom and Dad really put a lot of pressure on us,” Skipper recalls. “Anything less than an ‘A’ on a report card was bad news. Anything less then perfection was unacceptable.”
As a child, Barbie participated in 4H Club and won a blue-ribbon at the county fair for her huckleberry pie. She was a cheerleader and homecoming queen at Willows High School where classmates voted her “Most Likely to Own a Beach House in Malibu.”
She left America’s Dairyland to become a fashion model at the age of 18. But the Hollywood machine wasn’t fond of her Wisconsin background. So a more fitting story was fabricated. Barbie’s fake biography has her attending the upper-crust Manhattan International High School in New York City.
As the people and corporations guiding her career erased all traces of her connection to Wisconsin, it would seem Barbie herself slowly erased the relationships and family values with which she was raised.
Barbie’s Long Strange Trip
Barbie’s identity crisis started with the denial of her Wisconsin upbringing, and escalated quickly from there.
Consider the many career paths portrayed by Barbie through the years. Listing them all would be a nearly impossible task. There was Aerobics Instructor Barbie, Veterinarian Barbie, NASCAR Barbie, Paratrooper Barbie, Dentist Barbie, News Anchor Barbie, Scuba Diver Barbie, Secret Agent Barbie, Firefighter Barbie, Secretary Barbie, Paleontologist Barbie, Canadian Mountie Barbie, and even Presidential Candidate Barbie.
That only begins to scratch the surface…
While trying to show little girls they could do anything, Barbie tried to do everything. In the process, Barbara Milicent Roberts, the promising young girl from Willows, Wisconsin, never discovered who she really was.
She was Barbie…and the entire world was watching her.
Barbie’s long-time best friend, Midge Hadley, tells WhooNEW she started having concerns during Barbie’s stint as surgeon in the early 1970s.
“She’d had anxiety attacks and breakdowns before, but this was different,” Midge says.
“I remember Barbie walked into the club one night wearing scrubs and covered in blood. At least it looked like blood. She came up to the bar, reached over and grabbed an entire bottle of booze. I asked her what was wrong and she just burst out yelling ‘I couldn’t save him, dammit!’ But I thought she was coming from a photo shoot. Sooo, kinda weird.”
The Plastic Surgeries
Whether or not Barbie ever conducted surgery is up for debate, but there’s no denying the fact that America’s favorite doll has gone under the knife on multiple occasions.
However – Barbie and her team of publicists have certainly tried to deny the plastic surgery rumors. They’ve attributed Barbie’s ageless beauty to her line of lip gloss. They point to her healthy eating habits and exercise videos whenever her trademark disproportionate physique comes into question.
Barbie’s people definitely know how to turn a controversy into a cross-promotion.
The closest thing to an admission came after Barbie’s agent – the legendary Tracey Jacobs – was interviewed by Newsweek in 2009. When presented with the condemning set of pictures shown below, Jacobs may have made a slight slip.
“Barbie is plastic,” Jacobs told Newsweek. “Any time she has any surgery it’s plastic surgery. When she had her tonsils out, that was plastic surgery. When she had an ingrown toenail removed, that was plastic surgery too.”
The Romantic Affairs
If there is one part of Barbie’s life after leaving Wisconsin that was somewhat surprisingly true, it was her love life. Of course, the main object of Barbie’s affection has always been Ken.
Barbie met Ken Carson on the set of a television commercial in 1961 – quite early in Barbie’s career. Many have claimed the relationship was nothing but a sham set up by the Hollywood machine.
Ken’s sexuality has been questioned countless times, and the multiple fake weddings turned Barbie and Ken into the couple who cried wolf – or “I do” if you will.
But close friends say that while the relationship may have been fabricated initially – it all became very real.
“Not many people can relate to what Barbie and Ken went through,” Midge Hadley explains. “But they were there for each other. They understood each other. They really did fall in love, for awhile.”
Eventually, the relationship began to weaken, and it seemed Barbie was to blame. Tabloids would publish pictures of Barbie with a new man every week.
First it was GI Joe, then it was Stretch Armstrong, then it was Brett Michaels. While Ken Carson refused to comment or be interviewed for this story, reliable sources say he was devastated and angry.
In 2004, it was announced that Ken and Barbie were officially parting ways. It was the breakup that shocked America. Not even Brad Pitt leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie caused as much media hype. An explosion of paparazzi followed their every moves for months.
Shortly after the split, Barbie began seeing an Australian surfer by the name of Blaine. It seemed to be another match made in toy department heaven. He had flowing hair. Real hair – not a plastic hairdo like Ken’s.
Blaine also won the hearts of Barbie’s fans who seemed to believe claims from publicists citing Ken’s apparent reluctance to get married (for realz) as the reason for the breakup. Barbie’s cheating ways seemed to get swept under the rug in the midst of all the excitement surrounding her new man.
But the romance between Blaine and Barbie wouldn’t last nearly as long as her relationship with Ken. By 2006, Blaine was out of Barbie’s life.
He told Entertainment Tonight it was because the doll every little girl admired was struggling with a powerful addiction.
Hooked on PEZ
For many years, Barbie managed to stay away from the allure drugs and alcohol. She stood as a shining example to little girls that you didn’t have to give in to peer pressure in order to be popular.
That was – until Barbie met the Bratz Dolls.
“She was afraid she was losing relevance,” says Midge Hadley. “For years and years Barbie was like the hottest thing in the toy department. Then these new girls came along and started stealing the spotlight. They all wanted to leech off of each others’ fame.”
Fame wasn’t the side-effect Barbie received from hanging out with the Bratz Dolls. Before long, she became caught up in a destructive lifestyle. Nightclubs, extravagant shopping sprees and serious substance abuse.
But it wasn’t nose-candy that sunk its claws into Barbie. It was another kind of candy. Prescription PEZ. Skipper recalls being shocked at how quickly her sister became a prisoner to PEZ.
“I dropped by her home in Malibu one night, Skipper recalls. “She was there with a couple of Bratz, bouncing off the walls and popping those things like candy. She didn’t even use a dispenser – just opened a package and tossed ’em down the hatch.”
It all came to a dramatic – and nearly tragic climax earlier this year when Barbie crashed her pink car on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles.
A Tonka Jaws of Life was called to the scene to extract Barbie from the wreckage. She survived. However, she had a blood sugar level above 400, more than twice the legal limit.
After spending three weeks in the hospital – of which two had her in intensive care – Barbie was ordered to check-in to rehab.
Some are saying this will mark the end of her career. Barbie may be doomed to appear in nothing but Lifetime movies, reality television programs and Hallmark specials until the bitter end.
A Chance for a New Beginning?
Not everyone believes Barbie’s run is over. After all – when we hit rock bottom – there’s no place to go but back up again.
As a high-profile celebrity, Barbie could have checked into any rehab establishment in the country. Yet she chose the quiet, quaint Willows Rehabilitation Center – back in her hometown.
This will allow her to be close to her family. It could also be a sign that she’s ready to distance herself from the world that sadly took her out.
Going back home can be a powerful experience. It leads us to remember where we came from and how far we’ve come. It helps us rediscover who we really are.
Perhaps that’s what Barbie is hoping for. And it may be exactly what she needs.
So for now – she will trade in the smog-filled skies of LA for the fresh country air of central Wisconsin. She’s leaving behind the influence of Hollywood for the comfort of old friends. Instead of nightclubs she can hang out at supper clubs. No more sushi. Time for some bratwurst.
Is this the right thing for America’s Favorite Doll? Only time will tell.
Meantime – the world will keep watching.
Disclaimer – This article was written in the spirit of satire and parody. Barbie was never addicted to PEZ and has almost always been loyal to Ken. Please, Mattel – don’t sue us. Pretty please – with a cherry on top. 🙂
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