“I’m not nutty, I am just hooked on dolls!”
~ Neely O’Hara in Valley of the Doll
Writer and photographer David Mansour is hailed as an “Aficionado of American Pop Culture,” “Pop Culture Expert,” “Man of Pop!,” and “Barbie Guy,” after he appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Pop Nation TV show to talk about his favorite doll. His obsession with Barbie has been for a lifetime, which is a longtime since he fittingly shares the same birth year as her boyfriend, Ken. In 1987, a birthday gift of Barbie and the Rockers led to an extensive collection of dolls, toys, games, and pop culture memorabilia, inspiring David to write the book, From ABBA to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century.
In March 2018, he began a project of photographing his entire Barbie collection, over a thousand dolls captured in beautiful portraits. Inquisitive about the dolls he was photographing, David, forever a researcher at heart, took note of each doll’s importance in the world of Barbie. This five-year project is the genesis for Behold the Valley of the Dolls: A Barbie History in Portraits, which illustrates the history of Barbie through his photographs.
David resides in sunny San Diego, California with husband John Bode, a family of adorable pets, and his Barbie collection.
A Barbie History in Portraits
“You’ve got to climb Mt. Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls” began Jacqueline Susann’s wildly popular 1960s book and subsequent movie, Valley of the Dolls. In tribute, I take a spin on the opening tagline with “You’ve got to climb Cowles Mountain to Behold the Valley of the Dolls” (Cowles is the highest point in my home city of San Diego). Unlike Susann’s novel, you won’t find the rise to fame of Hollywood starlets and inevitable fall due to pill-popping and booze-swigging, catfights and scandal, but you will find dolls—over 1,000 Barbie dolls—posed for the camera in fabulous fashions by an adoring collector who himself has gone totally beyond the valley of the dolls.
Meet David Mansour!
Behold the Valley of the Dolls is a photography book, showcasing a Barbie collection through dazzling portraits. It’s Barbie doll history. 61 years of Barbie and friends, from 1960 to 2021. It reads like a “who’s who” of Barbie, featuring 500 of the most significant doll-lines housing over a thousand dolls. If you have a favorite Barbie, chances are it’s in the book!