ROBERT LEROY RIPLEY
THE MAN WHO COINED THE PHRASE “BELIEVE IT OR NOT!”
An icon in the world of cartoon art and the founder of an entertainment empire based on the premise that “truth is stranger than fiction,” Robert Ripley was an adventurer and trailblazer.
Ripley's first illustrations were published in January 2, 1913 for The New York Globe. Originally, he assembled a series of small sketches entitled “Champs and Chumps,” which included facts such as, "A. Forrester of Toronto ran 100 yards backwards in 14 seconds,” and “S.D.See hopped 100 yards in 11 seconds.” Disappointed with his work, he scratched the original title and inserted “Believe It or Not!” across the top. To his amazement, the cartoons were hailed by the public as revolutionary. As a result, Ripley became an overnight sensation.
After The New York Globe folded in 1923, Ripley was approached about producing a Believe It or Not! book. Over 500,000 copies were sold, making Robert Ripley the first cartoonist millionaire. In 1936, he was voted the most popular man in America by newspaper readers across the country.
Ripley dedicated his life to travel, reporting his experiences and bringing back with him the unbelievable artifacts and objects that can be seen in museums and odditoriums around the world today. The majority of his readers never experienced other cultures or traveled as far as he did, so he expanded his daily cartoon subject matter from sports oddities to international "Believe It or Nots!" His first collection was displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, attracting nearly two million visitors.
Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Ripley lectured at concert halls and theatres. In 1948, he created a television pilot based on one of his radio shows, which became the basis for one of the first weekly television series. Shortly after in 1949 Robert Ripley died from a heart attack at 55 years old.
Today, Robert Ripley's legacy lives on in the form of a collection of global attractions. Ripley's Believe It or Not! is the largest, fastest growing and most successful chain of amusement museum-type attractions in the world! There are 30 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums in operation, with featured exhibits that are so bizarre, so odd, so strange, and so unbelievable, even the most worldly and knowledgeable guests will be awe-inspired!
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