Arts & Entertainment

Celia Cruz Barbie announcement raises great expectations

New York, Sep 16 (EFE).- Although no release date has been set, a Barbie doll of the late singer Celia Cruz will soon hit the market featuring dark skin and unexpectedly wide hips, significantly different from the normally slender Barbies of the past, and the announcement has sparked huge expectations among fans of the “Queen of Salsa.”

“In less than 24 hours, the announcement (on the Barbie Instagram account) has already had 110,000 hits,” Omer Pardillo, the president of the Celia Cruz Foundation, the owner of all rights to the singer’s image, told EFE.

However, he said, fans of the iconic singer (1925-2003) will have to wait until next year to take home this new version of Barbie paying tribute to one of the Latino public’s most beloved artists, who made her mark in a music genre dominated by men, ultimately triumphing and moving right to the top.

The Mattel toy company, which launched the first Barbie in 1959, made the surprise announcement on Wednesday for the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month that it had created a Barbie to honor the legacy of the “Guarachera de Cuba,” although the firm has already created dolls resembling other famous Latinas like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.

“There’s nothing more powerful than using your voice!” Mattel said regarding Cruz in the announcement on its Instagram page, adding: “This Hispanic Heritage Month, Barbie is thrilled to honor the memory of the inimitable ‘Queen of Salsa,’ Celia Cruz, with a one-of-a-kind doll in her likeness.”

“As a stage performer, on-screen actor, and recording artist who succeeded in a male-dominated music scene, Celia Cruz is also known as the ‘Latin Triple Threat.’ Her long and storied career serves as endless inspiration for aspiring musicians, and through the Celia Cruz Foundation, her legacy continues to provide scholarships for young Latino students,” the firm added.

The announcement was accompanied by a photo of the doll, outfitted in a tight-fitting, red sequined floor-length dress ending in an asymmetric flounce, very typical of what the singer often wore during her performances.

Nobody could mistake the new Barbie’s blond and piled-high hair – although Cruz sported every hair color over the years – or her necklace and earrings, which were part of the impeccable trousseau of the singer, who is remembered not only for her powerful voice, but also her friendly nature, her connection with the public and her “warcry” on stage of “Azucar!” (Sugar!)

“I told them that Celia loved red and that she was obsessed with her wigs, which were made for her by her makeup artist, Ruth Sanchez,” Pardillo said.

Admirers of the singer of “La vida es un carnaval,” “Quimbara,” “La negra tiene tumbao” and “Bemba colora,” among many other hits and long-time favorites, reacted with comments that the new Barbie was the “best surprise of Hispanic Heritage Month” and “this one will definitely go into my (Barbie) collection.”

According to what Pardillo told EFE, Mattel began working on this project in 2018 and, although it was delayed by the coronavirus health crisis, six months ago the firm’s creative team picked up where they had left off.

He said that after authorizing the company to manufacture the doll, he sent a photo of a young Celia Cruz, where she appears much slimmer than during her more mature years, although her prominent hips were in evidence even back then.

“I’m very satisfied with this work. They captured her essence,” said Pardillo, going on to comment that new generations will be able to become interested in knowing more about Cruz through her doll.

He noted that about 30 years ago a California company tried to create a doll of the singer, but “nothing happened.”

Pardillo said he will soon meet with Mattel to learn the details on how the firm intends to market the doll.

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