Happy 60th birthday Ken! Barbie celebrates her boyfriend’s big day in style

I love to spread happy and fun news. It’s Spring and I love Barbie – so much so that I have a collection of 300 vintage Barbie dolls. Call me crazy, but today I’ll be celebrating Ken’s 60th Anniversary with my Barbie dolls. To mark this milestone in Barbie’s history, she was involved in a special photo shoot with reality TV star, Sam Thompson (Made in Chelsea, Reality Bites). He has recreated some of Ken’s most iconic looks. Unsurprisingly, like Barbie, Ken (doll) has evolved through the years to the figure of diversity he is today. Take a look at the wonderful timeline showcasing his transformation over time. 

In this video TV star and presenter Sam Thompson has cheekily posed in Ken’s iconic fashion outfits from the past 60 years including the mod style and the famous beach look.


Never far from Barbie’s side, Ken has been boyfriend, best friend and sidekick to Barbie, the worlds number one toy for sixty years. On this milestone anniversary, Ken steps into the spotlight solo paying homage to his most iconic outfits. 

With his trademark panache, Ken first appeared in an advert with Barbie on 11 March 1961 and has continued to make bold fashion statements ever since.

Sam Thompson said “My love for dress up is well documented but dressing up as Ken may be my greatest look yet. I can honestly say this is how I’ve never been seen before… but I might have to steal some of Ken’s trends secrets. Thank you, Ken, for showing me how to rock flares and a wig. My favourite was the 1991 Totally Hair Ken – those wide, purple trousers were liberating!”. You can currently see Sam Thompson in Pete & Sam’s Reality News on E4 Mondays at 11pm.

Ken’s debut 1961 look called ‘Original Ken’ is the classic beach look of red shorts, stripy shirt and yellow towel.

Sam travelled back to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s for Ken’s most iconic outfits, bringing to life fun retro fashion trends including corduroy flares and a shaggy brown wig for the 1972 Mod Hair Ken’s look  in a Seventies living room set, then the gelled bouffant hair and oversized trousers for 1991 Totally Hair Ken  look. 

Ken has had multiple makeovers over the years including by celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch, designers Gareth Pugh, Ambush, as well as inspired a Martine Rose capsule collection.

Iconic Ken looks modelled by Sam Thompson include:

  • 1962 Original Ken – Cool!  Beach look with wet, slick hair, red shorts and yellow towel
  • 1972 Mod Hair Ken – Smooth! Stylish brown blazer, white polo neck a groovy pair of brown flared cords, and a brown wig completes the look.
  • 1978 Superstar Ken – Disco baby! A Navy velvet jumpsuit and disco ball see Ken ready for the dancefloor!
  • 1984 Dinner Date Ken – So romantic! Stylish Tuxedo, pink cummerbund and corsage
  • 1991 Totally Hair Ken – Big and bold! Wild colours, glorious loud shirt, and baggy purple trousers

Today Ken is more diverse than ever, with 3 different body types, 9 skin tones,10 eye colours and a variety of skin tones and looks. New for 2021 include a doll with rooted afro texture hair, and the first ever Ken in a wheelchair.

Ivan Wu


Fun Ken Facts 

  1. Ken’s full name is Kenneth Sean Carson and he was named after the son of Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler.
  2. Ken’s hometown is Willows, Wisconsin.
  3. His official “birthday” is March 11, 1961 (making him a Pisces), he’s exactly two years and two days younger than Barbie.
  4. The first Ken sold for $3.50. He had moulded hair in blonde or brunette, wore red swim trunks, cork sandals, and carried a yellow towel.
  5. Ken and Barbie met on the set of their first television commercial in 1961.
  6. Ken stands at 12 inches tall, ½ inch taller than Barbie.
  7. His first best friend, Allan Sherwood, debuted in 1964.
  8. In 1969, Ken got a makeover with a new moulded hairdo, thicker eyebrows, and a bright smile to show off his white “teeth.”
  9. Ken’s first Black friend, Talking Brad, debuted in 1970.
  10. Mod Hair Ken from 1973 became the first Ken doll with rooted hair as well as a beard, moustache, and sideburn decals to completely change up his look.
  11. Smart and stylish, Ken has had several careers over the years including Doctor (1963), Pilot (1975), Sports Star Tennis Player (1980), Firefighter (2019), Lifeguard (2019), and Barista (2019).
  12. Gold Medal Olympic Skier Ken and Gold Medal Olympic Swimmer Ken made it to the big games in 1975.
  13. Ken made his movie debut in 1987’s “Barbie and the Rockers: Out of This World” as the band’s bassist. Since then, he’s had roles as a prince, reporter, marine biology intern, secret agent, and more!
  14. The Sunsational Malibu Ken dolls became the first Black (1982) and Hispanic (1984) dolls named “Ken.”
  15. Known for driving along the Malibu coast, Ken’s cars have included a Dream ‘Vette (1984) and a Mini Cooper (2012-13).
  16. Totally Hair Ken® was dressed for a night on the town in 1992 with rooted hair ready to be styled with his purple hair pick and a tube of Dep hair styling gel.
  17. Ken’s only sibling is his younger brother Tommy who debuted in 1997.
  18. It was the breakup heard around the world when Barbie and Ken ended their relationship in 2004.
  19. Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch gave Ken a mid-life makeover in 2006.
  20. In Summer 2010, Ken made more than 50 costume changes when he appeared on the big screen in “Toy Story 3.”
  21. Proving true love conquers all, Barbie and Ken reunited in 2011.
  22. Fashionable by design, Ken was a muse for Jean Paul Gaultier, Gareth Pugh, and even wore a custom Moschino suit exactly like the one worn by Jeremy Scott to the 2015 MTV Music Awards.
  23. Fashionista Ken sported new hairstyles including man bun and cornrows, as well as broad and slim body shapes in 2017.
  24. Ken’s Instagram account was spoofed by SNL in 2018.
  25. More diverse than ever, Ken has 3 body types, 9 skin tones, 10 eye colours, 27 hair colours, and 20 hairstyles.
  26. Barbie’s favourite guy next-door, Ken often appears in her Vlogger series ready lend an hand or take on the next viral challenge.

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