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Believe It Or Not! May 18, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Magick & Mystery.

I grew up reading books by Ripley, filled with unbelievable oddities and amazing facts, but seldom paused to consider the man behind the cartoons.

A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley,  by Neal Thompson, reveals this real life Wizard of Odd.

“The life story of Robert ‘Believe It or Not!’ Ripley is as intriguing as the many oddities in which he delighted.”
~ Entertainment Weekly

“An engaging, fast-moving biography… makes the case that Ripley was among the first media celebrities, and that his affection for the grotesque and the extreme shaped American pop culture.”
~ Columbus Dispatch

“Ripley’s amazing American life itself plays out like an impossible fairy tale.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

“A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world’s strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable.”
~ Amazon

Ripley’s efforts to counter claims that he was “stretching the truth” resulted in the fascinating and fun array of artifacts displayed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museums around the globe.

Once could say that Ripley’s curated collections are the fantastic and amusing consequence of calling a man a liar . . .

“I venture to say that I have been called a liar more often than anybody in the world.  Ordinarily, when one is called a liar, one feels hurt.  But it is different with me.  I do not mind it a bit.  When I am called a liar by a reader of my cartoons, I feel flattered.  That short and ugly word is like music to my ears.  I am complimented because it means to me that my cartoon contained some strange fact that was unbelievable ~ and therefore most interesting, and that the reader did not know the truth when he saw it.” ~ Robert Ripley

Did you read any of Ripley’s books of wonders, miracles, freaks, monstrosities, and almost-impossibilities?

Did you Believe it or Not! ?

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. colonialist - May 18, 2013

I have always believed that if Ripley said it, it was true no matter how fantastic. Were some of them actually porky-pies?

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

One or two of his far-fetched facts were not based in truth . . . but his reliability rate is 99.9787% . . . or thereabouts.

colonialist - May 18, 2013

Wish my car had that!

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

Yes! And my computer too! 😀

2. kateshrewsday - May 18, 2013

Oh, this looks just up me street, Nancy, thank you!

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

You’re welcome, Kate. Shrewsday Street came immediately to mind as I read about Robert Ripley. 😀

3. sufilight - May 18, 2013

I enjoyed Ripley many years ago, and yes, I believed what he said. It wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t. 😀

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

I recall being enthralled with the information he imparted. We’ve visited one of his museums (on the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk), but I’d like to see the first . . . in St. Augustine, FL.

4. Nancy Curteman - May 18, 2013

I did read Ripley. I love your term, “the wizard of odd.” I also like his philosophy of the value of being called a liar.

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

Thanks, NC. I haven’t read this Biography cover to cover, but I breezed through the extensive excerpt on Amazon. Thompson really draws people into Ripley’s life . . . every step of the way.

The “wizard of odd” came to me because I just finished reading a biography of L. Frank Baum. :mrgreen:

5. viviankirkfield - May 18, 2013

I used to love Ripley’s Believe it or Not!!! So, I think a book about him would be fascinating. And I love your wordsmithing in the comment above…Wizard of Odd…you are a clever girl. 🙂
Maybe I should bring a book like that on the plane next week…looks like the kind of book that would keep me engrossed for…24 hours of flight time. 🙂

nrhatch - May 18, 2013

Egads! 24 hours of flight time. That’s going to take some stamina . . . and a good book!

There is an extensive excerpt of this book on Amazon ~ it might be just the book you’re looking for . . . to pack in your carry on.

And thanks! I love it when the words don’t fight back. 😀

6. ericjbaker - May 19, 2013

I’ve walked passed the Ripley museum on 42nd street hundreds of times and never walked in. I’ve got to do it once.

nrhatch - May 19, 2013

We’ve been to one of the Ripley Museums, on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. A perfect “rainy day” activity.

7. Grannymar - May 19, 2013

Ripley’s Believe it or Not, is a new one on me. I must do a little investigatging….

nrhatch - May 19, 2013

Ripley’s does have museums all round the globe. Closest to you may be in London. The books have been published since 1929. They came out on a regular basis while we were growing up and we gobbled them up . . . so many FUN facts and tantalizing trivia.

8. jannatwrites - May 21, 2013

I didn’t read Ripley’s much (the gross oddities made my stomach turn) but my older son has a couple of the books. We went to the Ripley’s museum in San Antonio a few years back – that was actually quite entertaining. The kids had fun (even though my youngest was only 3 or 4 at the time.)

nrhatch - May 21, 2013

Ripley shared some gross and grotesque oddities in his books ~ I had two brothers, so the disgusting bits didn’t bother me much back then. I’m much more sensitive now. :mrgreen:

I see the Ripley Odditoriums as a FUN way to spend a rainy day.

9. shreejacob - May 30, 2013

Never read the book..BUT used to watch the series on TV! I loved it..and I do like his quote.

nrhatch - May 30, 2013

I forgot about the TV series. We used to enjoy the bizarre and unusual finds he found. 😯

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