Mattel started producing black friends for Barbie doll in 1967, when Black Francie doll was sold in stores. Black Francie was not a huge hit at the time of issue, so Mattel decided to go back to the drawing board and design an African American friend for Barbie doll with ethnic features.
In 1968 Christie, Barbie doll’s black friend was released. Christie doll had several things going for her. First, the doll had a stylish brown afro hairdo, some of which faded to red over time. Second, a Julia doll was released at the same time that looked similar to Christie and was a character doll of Diahann Carroll from the television show. The ‘Julia’ doll had a cute nurse’s dress and separately available fashions, all of which fit Christie. Christie and Julia dolls started showing up in children’s toy boxes around the world.
Twist ‘n Turn Christie and Talking Christie were the first two Christie dolls and were sold in stores in 1968. Talking Christie had an afro and wore a green top with pink shorts. TNT Christie wore a yellow and pink swimsuit. Christie doll was the same size as Barbie and could slip into all of Barbie doll’s luxurious fashions.
Live Action Christie was the first Christie doll with long, shoulder length hair. She was sold in 1971 and there were matching Barbie, Ken and P.J. dolls. Christie doll looked like Live Action P.J. dyed black and had the Midge face mold. Live Action Christie wore psychedelic purple pants and blouse with fringe.
Malibu Christie was sold for several years in a variety of skin tones starting in the mid 1970’s. She wore a yellow swimsuit and was packaged on a bubble card or in a pink box. Another African American friend Cara was introduced, and only four versions of her were made. These dolls featured the Steffie face and were Quick Curl Cara, Deluxe Quick Curl Cara, Free Moving Cara and Ballerina Cara. All of the Cara dolls are hard to find.
Christie doll returned to elegance with Superstar Christie in 1977. This beautiful Christie doll wore a yellow satin gown similar in style to Superstar Barbie’s gown. She smiled and showed off the new Superstar face. The Superstar dolls wore sparkly boas and jewelry and featured button top shoes and a clear round stand that gripped the doll’s leg. An eighteen inch tall version called Supersize Christie was also produced.
A few other lovely Christie dolls were manufactured in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Sunsational Malibu Christie had tan lines under her swimsuit. Kissing Christie had a kiss print dress and featured a button in her back which made her head tilt forward when pressed. Beauty Secrets Christie had an afro and a long ponytail with a winning smile. She had arms that moved up and down when a button was pressed on her back. Golden Dream Christie was made in two versions: one with sheer striped gloves and one with copper opaque gloves. Pink and Pretty Christie was stunning with layers of light pink and the Steffie face.
In 1980, Mattel produced the first doll named Black Barbie who had an afro and the Steffie face. From then onward, Barbie and Christie were both made as black dolls. Various collectible Barbie lines of the 1980’s had Barbie doll produced in both black and white versions, such as Crystal Barbie, Jewel Secrets and Peaches ‘n Cream. Black Barbie from 1980 was recently reproduced by Mattel.