05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Call Jill Barad a living doll and she's unlikely to take offense. After all, a doll named Barbie, selling at a clip of more than 1 million a week, contributed more than $1 billion to the $2.7 billion in revenues earned last year by Mattel Inc., the FORTUNE 500 toy company that Barad runs as president and chief operating officer. Moreover, the 42-year-old, 5'5", 120-lb. Barad sees the 35-year-old, 11½", 3-oz. Barbie as a worthy role model. "I'm very conscious," she says, "of showing that Barbie's been an astronaut or that she's a doctor. It's what we do in the world, not what we look like, that will be remembered." Still, Barad's own vibrant looks are unforgettable. "There's a flamboyance about her," says Paul Fireman, chairman of Reebok, on whose board of directors Barad sits. "She's got an intriguing look."
The younger daughter of TV director Larry (Falcon Crest, Knots Landing) Elikann and Corky, a pianist and artist, Barad says that by 16, "I never left the house without lipstick or eye makeup. It was the time of Twiggy, when you did patent-leather liner and false eyelashes." After working for Cory Cosmetics and then an ad agency, Barad joined Mattel in 1981 as a product manager at a salary of $38,000. Now, living in L.A. with her husband, Thomas Barad, 42, a movie producer, their two sons and a Lhasa apso, she earns $1.25 million a year. But some things haven't changed. Her infectious grin, for one ("when I smile, I sort of smile from my toes"). And unlike Barbie, who has had scores of hairdos, Barad says of her sable mane, "I've had the same hairstyle since I was 7. Hair is very much a part of who I am."