Monday, October 29, 2012

Barbie: Diahann Carroll's Julia

I was wandering through a discount store a while ago and imagine my surprise when I saw this little goody sitting demurely on a shelf.  A Barbie doll based on the groundbreaking sitcom Julia?  My mouth flew open with surprise, my heart fluttered with excitement.  I quickly grabbed one of the few boxes left and perused the item.  The packaging was intact, no obvious damage or flaws... Why was this being sold here?  Then again, why ask why?  I made a bee-line to the front of the store, paid for the doll and quickly left, absconding with my prize like a thief in the night just in case there was an error in price.  I just couldn't believe my fortune!

Although I love and collect Barbie dolls, I wouldn't call myself a fanatic.  Meaning, I do not follow Barbie blogs or subscribe to Barbie newsletters or wear Barbie clothes and such.  I'm more of the casual collector, I guess.  So, I really had no idea that such a doll existed, let alone that it was a reproduction of a doll originally released in 1968.  A black Barbie fashioned after a black movie star/singer based on a black TV character?  Wow!

I was not yet born when Julia first aired on TV, but I have heard of it before.  It featured the beautiful, incomparable Diahann Carroll - star of movies like Carmen Jones and Claudine, and TV show Dynasty - in the title role that broke rigid stereotypes of African-Americans at that time.  Julia was a strong, intelligent black woman that balanced her career as a nurse with raising a young son in Los Angeles.  The show was an instant hit, much to Ms. Carroll's surprise, and ran for three seasons before coming to an end in 1971.  Although embraced by many viewers, success also attracted criticism.  Much like 90's hit The Cosby Show, some thought the show too "unrealistic" in its depiction of black life while other blacks scoffed at the portrayal of a single, black female raising a son alone, albeit she was widowed.   Despite the rumblings, the sitcom Julia had a strong run and inspired various merchandise, including dolls and lunchboxes.

I'm loving Julia's brown smoky eye and perfectly arched eyebrows!  LOL!  Hair perfectly coiffed...

And did you peep the eyelashes?  Do you see how long they are?  Fabulous!

You know, I can't imagine the honor one must feel to be immortalized in such a way.  Especially an African-American star?  It really doesn't happen too often.  To have your likeness commissioned by Mattel for their collectors' line of Barbie dolls must be mind blowing!  I know it blew my mind to see it.  And I really respect and love Mattel for it.  And that's why I had to have this Barbie to add to my collection.  A collection that I'm rebuilding slowly, doll by doll.

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