Name: First Black Francie (a.k.a. “Colored” Francie)
Made by and When: Mattel, box date ©1965 (released in 1967)
Marks: (Inside head rim) ©1965 Mattel Inc; (body) ©1966/Mattel, Inc +/- Country/U.S. Patented/U.S. Pat. Pend/Made in Japan
Height: 11-1/2 inches
Hair/Eyes/Mouth: Red rooted, below-the-shoulder length hair with flipped ends and straight bangs/light brown painted eyes with rooted eyelashes/closed mouth (the 2nd issue of this doll had darker brown eyes, dark brown hair, and a darker complexion).
Clothes: Multicolored floral-print two-piece swimsuit with white mesh top attached at the hips and shoulders, wrist tag, includes clear X stand and eyelash brush.
Other: Black Francie was referred to as “Colored Francie.” The use of the term, “colored” as a racial identifier of people in America of African descent remained commonplace during the 1960s. The doll’s white counterpart had been released a year prior, referred to as Barbie’s “MODern” cousin. Black Francie was never given that familial relationship. Due to protests from white parents (that a Black doll could be considered Barbie’s cousin), Black Francie was discontinued shortly after the 2nd version was released in 1968.
Francie dolls have a Twist ‘n’ Turn waist and bendable knees. This version was the first dark-skinned doll introduced into the Barbie line; however, the doll uses white Francie’s sculpt and not a dedicated African American facial sculpt.
Reproduction Dolls: In 1997, Mattel released Wild Bunch Francie as a reproduction of the first Black Francie wearing a reproduction of Francie’s Wild Bunch fashion (see slideshow image).
A Barbie Fan Club exclusive designed by Robert Best and released in August 2012, Fuchsia ‘n Fur Francie is the first African American Silkstone Francie. The doll wears a lovely pink and black ensemble. (See slideshow images.)
Reference (for head markings) Meillo, Marcie. The Ultimate Barbie Doll Book, page 131. 1996. Krause Publications.
Slideshow (#1 Black Francie’s photographs are courtesy of Sabrina Dooley.)