On December 19, 1918, the first Believe It or Not! cartoon was published, then called “Champs and Chumps” and featuring a collection of sports oddities Ripley had saved.
In December 1922, Ripley embarked on his first around the world trip and returned on April 7, 1923. He published his travel journal in installment form.
Ripley’s Fun Fact
Ripley visited a number of ancient and holy sites as he toured through western Asia, southern Asia, and the Middle East in countries including Iraq, Israel, Afganistan, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, and more.
Ripley hired Norbert Pearlroth in 1923 as a part time linguist and translator, but he soon became the man behind the cartoon curtain. Pearlroth’s expertise and researching capabilities made him a lifelong partner.
“A Walking Encyclopedia.”
Robert L. Ripley
In 1929, Ripley published the very first Believe It or Not! book, which flew off bookstore shelves.
On July 9, Ripley joined Hearst’s King Features Syndicate and the Believe It or Not! cartoon went from being published in 17 papers to worldwide distribution.
“Truth is stranger than fiction.”
-Robert L. Ripley
Ripley signed with NBC in the 1930s making it the beginning of his 14-year run on radio.
Ripley’s Fun Fact
Robert Ripley was the first to broadcast underwater with his Marineland stunt in St. Augustine, Florida, on February 23, 1940.
The second Believe It or Not! book was published.
Ripley created movie shorts for Vitaphone Pictures made by Warner Bros.
The first, biggest, and most successful national Believe It or Not! contest held.
After sifting through millions of submissions, the grand prize winner was announced as Clinton Blume.
The first Odditorium opened in Chicago, Illinois, at the World’s Fair.
Inside the museum were dozens of Ripley’s famous cartoons, live performers, and hundreds of strange and exotic artifacts Ripley acquired on his worldly travels.
The success of the Odditorium led to several more appearances at world expositions across the country.
Robert Ripley died on May 27 after collapsing on the set of his weekly television show. Hundreds attended the service including celebrities, journalists, athletes, and cartoonists.
The first permanent Believe It or Not! museum opened in St. Augustine, Florida, which still operates in its original location at Warden’s Castle.
Ripley’s Fun Fact
Today, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! St. Augustine 20,000-square-foot attraction boasts three floors of exhibits, including some of Ripley’s original collection. Over the years, Ripley’s iconic St. Augustine Red Train Sightseeing Tours as well as Ghost Adventure Tours joined the St. Augustine family of attractions.
Successful national Ripley’s Believe It or Not! TV show was broadcast for 82 episodes, starring Jack Palance and his daughter Holly Palance.
The company took its biggest step to diversifying its line of attractions with the opening of the first Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
In 2004, Ripley Publishing was launched with the successful New York Times bestseller Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, with 2.2 million copies sold. Today, the series is released every year with all-new content. The annual Ripley’s Believe It or Not! book is translated into dozens of languages and published in foreign markets. To date, Ripley Publishing has sold over 10 million books!
To date, Ripley’s has published more than a 1,000 new creative content pieces and amassed millions of online followers.