‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ is founded by Robert Ripley. This is an American franchise dealing with bizarre items and events that are unusual and strange. This gained the utmost popularity that it became adapted into various formats such as television, radio, a chain of museums, comic books and also a book series. The Ripley Entertainment Inc is Orlando-based and a Jim Pattison Group division. This is a global company receiving over 12 million guests every year.
The story of Ripley began in 1890 in Santa Rosa, Calif on a Christmas Day when Robert Leroy Ripley was born. Ripley was a self-taught, talented artist who sold to Life magazine his first drawing at the age of 18. Ripley played semi-pro ball for years, and his first love was baseball though he was a natural athlete.
However, his dream of the Big leagues and pitching did not work as he broke his arm in a training game during a New York Giants spring. After this accident, Ripley was left with no choice but to pick up the art seriously and his hobby transformed into his occupation and more precisely it was his life work. He worked in San Francisco for newspapers, but in 1912 winters he left to the New York City.
About Ripleys collection
The Ripley collection includes more than 30,000 artifacts, 20,000 photographs, and over 100,000 cartoon panels. There are 80-plus attractions. Ripley Entertainment’s broadcast divisions and publications oversee numerous projects, and this includes the newspaper cartoon panel, the syndicated TV series, posters, books, and games. Robert Ripley in 1918 started with his first cartoon strip and began collecting all the oddities that he saw around the world, and it featured books, fairs, and Auditoriums.
To experience the most bizarre sights that are also the wonders of the world, it is right here and includes right from the “live” stage show to magic harp to shrunken heads. There is also a deep-space hall of mirrors. Ripley’s Believe it or not has all authentic exhibits and stories. TheAuditorium has genuine artifacts and not mere exhibits, photos or replicas.
Robert Ripley’s life was a mind-boggling adventure. He explored for 35 years all the uncanny and witnessed the amazing things. His Believe It or Not! the cartoon also received a great response, and it teemed with incredible and proven phenomena every day. He was referred to as a liar more often, but that never moved him.
Ripley never gave up establishing the truth of each assertion. He visited more than 200 countries and was known as a world traveler seeing places that few people may not even have heard of, and this includes the tombs of the Ming Emperors in China to a town referred to as Hell in Norway!
Ripley was a reporter, an artist, an explorer and an amazing collector. He illustrated the stories he collected. He also appeared later in his popular newspaper cartoon feature ‘Believe It or Not.’ Even today the venerable cartoons are enjoyed by readers in millions worldwide.
Wherever Ripley went, he kept looking for the unusual and odd. In this quest, he documented the beliefs and customs of many exotic modern and ancient civilizations. Whenever possible he brought from his journeys artifacts to his home and today, it has become the heart featuring the greatest collection of oddities that is ever assembled. Today these artifacts are in Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums all around the world. Now, every year millions of people visit these museums that are offering a firsthand tour of the incredible world of Robert Ripley!
An American Cliche
In December 1918, Ripley was busy working for the New York Globe as a sports cartoonist. Ripley brought together all the odd facts and feats and created his first collection. The sketches were based on bizarre athletic achievements and were initially entitled as the “Champs and Chumps,” however, after much forethought and consideration, Ripley changed it to ‘Believe It or Not.’ The cartoon brought him a great instant success.
In 1914, he started with a trip to France and Belgium. In fact, travel became his lifelong obsession. He visited 201 countries during his career, circumnavigating twice the globe and traveling covering a total distance of 18 complete trips around the world.
In 1922-23 he crossed Japan, Malaysia, China, India and the Philippines and traveled to the Orient. He wrote all that he saw and experienced, and this diary was published once he was back home in daily installments.
Ripley was drawn to China. He liked the Chinese culture and found it to be fascinating. He also adopted many of the Chinese customs. This is the reason for most of his lifetime he dressed in Chinese robes and entertained. Besides this, he typically served elaborate Chinese feasts to his guests. At one such point, he signed as ‘Rip Li’ early in his career and later he acquired an authentic Chinese junk that he used as his pleasure craft that craft became his home away from home.
Ripley earned a nickname of “the Modern Marco Polo” by the Duke of Windsor, while his travels took him to prominence in all the corners of the world. On one such trip, he crossed two continents covering air travel of 24,000 miles – 15,000 miles, 8,000 miles by ship and by camel, horse, and donkey over 1,000 miles.
Ripley’s early cartoons, the oddities collection found on his journeys, were published first in the form of a book in 1929 by Simon & Schuster. ‘Believe It or Not’ sold over 500,000 copies and also were the topmost sellers for months that it would stay in print for approximately 40 years. Today, if the same Believe It or Not! Books were more than 100 titles and if they were stacked one upon another, the books sold numbers would cross 300 times and will stand tall as the New York City’s Empire State Building!
In 1929, Ripley’s salary took a fly from $10,000 to $100,000 a year. This was after signing with King Features a syndicated cartoonist, as a part of the William William Randolph Hearst newspaper empire. This was a new birth of a legend that Ripley would be the foremost cartoonist earning a million dollars a year.
At this popularity height, the ‘Believe It or Not’ feature was circulated in 360 newspapers around the world. It was also translated into 17 different languages having a daily readership of not less than 80 million people.
The reader’s response was that many demanded proof of his unbelievable statements. One such cartoon published in 1927, stated that Charles Lindbergh was not the only one to cross by plane the Atlantic brought him over 170,000 letters. This made him highly famous that his mails reached him even without a complete address. Envelopes addressed ‘To Rip’ or ‘To the world’s biggest liar.’ Later a survey in 1936 was conducted to find Ripley’s cartoons were most popular, and even the front page news had a great readership. Ripley was highly popular in America more than sports figures, the movie starts and President Roosevelt.
A dozen researchers and three linguistic experts worked to verify every unbelievable fact. His artifacts were in a huge collection, and most are still in Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums across the world. These were assembled from his extensive travels to prove genuine of his outlandish and bizarre claims.