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Jan 2016

10 interesting facts about Robert Ripley…believe them or not!

by ensitiodesign

Robert Ripley, known for his empire created around “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” began as a newspaper sports cartoonist, eventually becoming an adventurer who curated unbelievable oddities prompting millions of readers to question their view of reality. His notion that “truth is stranger than fiction,” extended into his personal life. Sadly, he died before telling his own story so the intimate details of his life remain unknown. However, what we do know is not only unordinary, it teeters on extraordinary.

  1. The “Star Spangled Banner” was never formally adopted as the national anthem until Ripley divulged this fact in his column, prompting a petition to congress boasting 5 million signatures. This resulted in Herbert Hoover officially signing the anthem into legislation on March 3, 1931.
  2. During the Great Depression, Ripley earned upward of a half million dollars per year.
  3. At the peak of his career, his cartoon was read daily by approximately 8 million people. He sometimes received thousands of letters each week from both angry and admiring readers.
  4. When he sponsored a contest for readers to submit their own “Believe it or Not!” stories, he received 2.5 million letters in two weeks. (The winner was a gentleman named Clinton Blume, who was swimming at a Brooklyn beach when he found the monogrammed hairbrush he’d lost in 1918 when his ship was sunk by a German U-Boat.)
  5. Not particularly handsome, he reportedly shared his 28-room mansion with many adoring lady friends, sometimes living with 3 or 4 at once.
  6. The first published drawing by 12-year-old Charles Schultz, creator of “Peanuts,” appeared on the syndicated “Believe it or Not!” Schultz submitted a picture of his dog Spike who he described as eating pins, tacks and razor blades. Spike became the basis for the iconic character, “Snoopy.”
  7. In 1925, Ripley published a guide to handball. In 1926, he became the New York City handball champion.
  8. In 1936, the New York Times dubbed Ripley the most popular man in America, followed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  9. Ripley was rarely proven wrong, having employed a full-time fact checker who spent virtually all hours at the New York Public Library. However, he often lied about his own life, varying his birth date from 1891 to 1892 to 1893. He also bragged about his extensive education, when in fact he was a high-school dropout.
  10. His exhibit at the 1933 Chicago’s World Fair included beds for those who fainted at the site of his curiosities.