In the beginning Lilli was a German cartoon character, created by Reinhard Beüthien for the tabloid Bild-Zeitung in Hamburg, Germany. In 1953 Bild-Zeitung decided to market a Lilli doll and contacted Max Weissbrodt from the toy company O&M Hausser in Neustadt/Coburg, Germany. Following Beuthien's drawings, Weissbrodt designed the prototype of the doll, which was on sale from 1955 to 1964, when Mattel acquired the rights to the doll and German production stopped. Until then production numbers reached 130,000. Today Lilli is a collector's piece as Barbie is, and commands prices up to several thousand Euros, depending on condition, packaging and clothes.
Reinhard Beuthien was ordered to make a "filler" to conceal a blank space in the Bild-Zeitung of June 24, 1952. He drew a cute baby, but his boss didn't like it. So he kept the face, added a ponytail and a curvy woman's body and called his creation "Lilli". She sat in a fortune-teller's tent asking: "Can't you tell me the name and address of this rich and handsome man?" The cartoon was an immediate success so Beuthien had to draw new ones each day.