“The Modern Marco Polo”
June 11, 2013 8:57 AM   Subscribe

“With a $100,000-plus salary from newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, beginning in 1929, followed by endorsement deals, speaking engagements, and earnings from his best-selling books, radio shows, movies, and museums, he was earning well over half a million dollars a year during the height of the Depression. By 1936, a newspaper poll found, Ripley was more popular than James Cagney, President Roosevelt, Jack Dempsey, and even Lindbergh.” – Vanity Fair features an excerpt adapted from Neal Thompson’s new book, A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley.

His legacy lives on in his many museums worldwide, including his very first in St. Augustine, Florida which is housed in a 130 year old, poured concrete castle built for Standard Oil partner William G. Warden.

If you watched TV during the eighties, you probably remember the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” series hosted by Jack Palance (and featuring a great theme song). A later incarnation was produced in 2000 on TBS and hosted by Dean Cain.

His syndicated cartoons, which have run uninterrupted since 1929, can be found in nearly 200 newspapers worldwide.

And if you’d like to listen to the man himself, there is an archive of his radio broadcasts available for your enjoyment.

Incidentally, this is the first time that a post on Robert L. Ripley has been featured on Metafilter. Believe it… or not!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
While I hate the continued tradition of celebrated orientalism, you have to admit that he did get a damn fine pinball machine.
posted by Theta States at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed the 90's adventure game based on Ripley.
posted by selfnoise at 9:25 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much - I didn't even realize a real figure lay behind the ubiquitous ripley name. I wonder if the 1949 tv show is accessible anywhere.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:34 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I always hear "Believe It Or Not" text in Jack Palance's voice.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:42 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't believe it.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2013

When I started out in Boy Scouts in the mid 90s, the first trip I went on was a weekend outing to the Minnesota National Guard's Camp Ripley. Since it was a large gathering covering most if not all of the state they gave everyone t-shirts, which had the slogan "Believe it or Not".

None of the scouts understood the reference.
posted by ckape at 11:37 AM on June 11, 2013

He's surely got a mortal lock on the gaudiest websites award.

I once knew one of his 'stars', a man who carved an eight-foot tall grandfather clock out of a single piece of wood.
posted by Twang at 11:54 AM on June 11, 2013

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