She can't blow out the candles, but Hello Kitty turns 35 today. Launched by the Japanese greeting card firm Sanrio in 1974, the mute, mysterious feline made her US debut in 1976 and is now an international style icon. "Who doesn't love Kitty?" fashion entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons asks. "Everyone from Paris Hilton to me, to Kelly Ripa, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Tyra Banks, Iman. I mean everybody loves Kitty."
Hello Kitty isn't as always as innocent as she looks—a since-discontinued "shoulder massager" enjoyed a brief heyday as an, ahem, marital aid—but her popularity shows no signs of waning. An Italian-born artist thrilled to have a piece included in a birthday tribute exhibition tells the Los Angeles Times: "It's a huge honor because Hello Kitty is the most iconic cute character."