Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not (January 12, 1941)

Ripley's Believe It or Not! is a franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims. The Believe It or Not panel proved popular and was later adapted into a wide variety of formats, including radio, television, a chain of museums, and a book series.

The Ripley collection includes 20,000 photographs, 30,000 artifacts and more than 100,000 cartoon panels. With 80-plus attractions, the Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment, Inc., a division of the Jim Pattison Group, is a global company with an annual attendance of more than 12 million guests. Ripley Entertainment's publishing and broadcast divisions oversee numerous projects, including the syndicated TV series, the newspaper cartoon panel, books, posters and games.


Syndicated feature panel

Ripley first called his cartoon feature, originally involving sports feats, Champs and Chumps, and it premiered on December 19, 1918, in the New York Globe. Ripley began adding items not related to sports, and in October 1919 he changed the title to Believe It or Not. When the Globe folded in 1923, Ripley moved to the New York Evening Post. That same year, Ripley hired Norbert Pearlroth as his researcher, and Pearlroth spent the next 52 years of his life in the New York Public Library, working ten hours a day and six days a week in order to find unusual facts for Ripley. Other writers and researchers included Lester Byck.

Those working on the syndicated newspaper panel after Ripley included Joe Campbell (1946–1956), Art Sloggatt (1917–1975), Clem Gretter (1941–1949), Carl Dorese, Bob Clarke (1943–1944), Stan Randall, Paul Frehm (1938–1978; he became the full time artist in 1949) and his brother Walter Frehm (1948–1989); Walter worked part time with his brother Paul and became a full time Ripley artist from 1978–1989. Paul Frehm won the National Cartoonists Society's Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for 1976 for his work on the series. Clarke later created parodies of Believe It or Not! for Mad, as did Wally Wood and Ernie Kovacs, who also did a recurring satire called "Strangely Believe It!" on his TV programs.

At the peak of its popularity, the syndicated feature was read daily by about 80 million readers, and during the first three weeks of May 1932 alone, Ripley received over two million pieces of fan mail. Dozens of paperback editions reprinting the newspaper panels have been published over the decades. Other strips and books borrowed the Ripley design and format, such as Ralph Graczak's Our Own Oddities, Strange as It Seems by John Hix and Gordon Johnston's It Happened in Canada. Recent Ripley's Believe It or Not! books containing new material have supplemented illustrations with photographs.

Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz's first publication of artwork was published by Ripley. It was a cartoon claiming his dog was "a hunting dog who eats pins, tacks and razor blades." Schulz's dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts' Snoopy.


Some notable books:

  • Ripley's Believe It or Not (1929), reprinted in 2004
  • Ripley's Mammoth Book of Believe It or Not (1955)
  • Ripley's Giant Book of Believe It or Not (1976)
  • Ripley's 35th Anniversary Believe It or Not (1954)
  • Ripley's 50th Anniversary Believe It or Not (1968)

A series of paperback books containing annotated sketches from the newspaper feature:

  • Ripley's Believe It or Not 1st Series (1941)
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not 2nd Series (1948)
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not 3rd Series (1954)


  • Ripley's Believe It or Not 34th Series (1982)

Ripley Entertainment produces a range of books featuring unusual facts, news stories and photographs. In 2004 Ripley Entertainment founded Ripley Publishing Ltd, based in the United Kingdom, to publish new Believe It or Not titles.[1] The company produces the New York Times bestselling Ripley's Believe It or Not! Annuals, the children’s fiction series Ripley’s RBI, an educational series called the Ripley’s Twists, the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Special Edition in conjunction with Scholastic USA and a number of other titles.[2][3][4] At the height of his popularity Robert Ripley received thousands of letters a day from the public,[5] and Ripley Entertainment continues to encourage submissions from readers who have strange stories and photographs that could be featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! books and media.[6]


In April 1930, Ripley brought "Believe It or Not" to radio, the first of several series heard on NBC, CBS and the Mutual Broadcasting System. As noted by Ripley On Radio, Ripley's broadcasts varied in length from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and aired in numerous different formats. When Ripley's 1930 debut on The Collier Hour brought a strong listener reaction, he was given a Monday night NBC series beginning April 14, 1930, followed by a 1931–32 series airing twice a week. After his strange stories were dramatized on NBC's Saturday Party, Ripley was the host of The Baker's Broadcast from 1935 to 1937. He was scheduled in several different 1937–38 NBC timeslots and then took to the road with popular remote broadcasts. See America First with Bob Ripley (1939–40) on CBS expanded geographically into See All the Americas, a 1942 program with Latin music. In 1944, he was heard five nights a week on Mutual in shows with an emphasis on WWII. Romance, Rhythm and Ripley aired on CBS in 1945, followed by Pages from Robert L. Ripley's Radio Scrapbook (1947–48).

Robert Ripley is known for several radio firsts. He was the first to broadcast nationwide on a radio network from mid-ocean, and he also participated in the first broadcast from Buenos Aires to New York. Assisted by a corps of translators, he was the first to broadcast to every nation in the world simultaneously.[citation needed]

As the years went on, the show became less about oddities and featured guest-driven entertainment such as comedy routines. Sponsors over the course of the program included Pall Mall cigarettes and General Foods. The program ended its successful run in 1948 as Ripley prepared to convert the show format to television syndication.

Films, television, internet and computer game

The newspaper feature has been adapted into more than a few films and TV shows.


  • Ripley hosted a series of two dozen Believe It or Not! theatrical short films in 1930 and 1931 for Warner Brothers Vitaphone. He also appeared in a Vitaphone musical short, Seasons Greetings (1931), with Ruth Etting, Joe Penner, Ted Husing, Thelma White, Ray Collins, and others. A 2-DVD release featuring 24 of these theatrical shorts is available in the USA beginning March 16, 2010 from Warner Home Video, through their Warner Archive manufacture-on-demand program.[7]
  • Ripley's short films were parodied in a 1939 Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies cartoon titled Believe it or Else!. Released on 25 June, directed by Tex Avery and written by Dave Monahan, it featured a running gag in which Egghead (a prototype Elmer Fudd) appeared to declare, "I don't believe it!" On 5 November of the same year, another Avery documentary parody, Fresh Fish, was released. Written by Jack Miller, this cartoon's running gag was a two-headed fish that kept swimming onto the screen to ask, "Pardon me, but can you tell me where I can find Mister Ripley?"


  • The first Believe It or Not TV series, a live show hosted by Ripley, premiered March 1, 1949. Shortly after the 13th episode, on May 27, 1949, Ripley died of a heart attack and several of his friends substituted as host, including future Ripley's Believe It or Not! president Doug Storer. Robert St. John served as host from the second season until the series ended on October 5, 1950.
  • An animated series, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, was produced for Fox Family in 1999 and followed the adventures of "Michael Ripley", Robert Ripley's nephew. The show was aimed at a younger audience, and would often feature Michael going around the world.
  • The most recent series based upon the comic strip, once again titled Ripley's Believe It or Not! debuted in 2000 on TBS. Hosted by actor Dean Cain, executive-produced by Dan Jbara and co-executive-produced by Dennis Lortz, the series took a slightly more sensationalistic approach to its subject matter and "premiered as the highest-rated original series on cable" at that time.[9] The series was cancelled in October 2003 after four seasons. Like the previous syndicated live-action series, this latest edition moved to the Biography Channel for reruns, and continues to air today.Outside of the U.S., re-runs of this 3rd series are still screening in countries such as Australia, where the show is currently broadcast on the Australian version of the Sci-Fi Channel.

Philippines series

  • In 2006, the Philippines made a local adaptation of Ripley's Believe it or Not! with a local host. ABC-5 (now known as TV5) was the first to make it with Raymond Bagatsing as host. The show however was short-lived.
  • In 2008, GMA Network bought the rights and revived Ripley's in the Philippines. This time Chris Tiu of the Ateneo Blue Eagles was chosen as host. It is part of the "Bilib Ka Ba? Nights" ("Do You Believe? Nights") Block of the Network which premiered August 18, 2008.

Internet and games

  • In 2006, the website held a "Dear Mr. Ripley" contest in which contestants submitted "unbelievable" stories and with a public vote selecting a winner. The submissions included stories about a two-faced kitten, a car hurdler, a painting on human flesh canvas, a snake swallowing a golfball, an unopened deck of cards in a thin-necked bottle, a collector of Converse shoes with over 400 pairs, a man who survived a dumptruck falling on him, a painting made of nail polish, a child who played sports while hopping on a pogo stick, and a tongue swallower. The winners were announced on December 15, 2006.


When Ripley first displayed his collection to the public at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, it was labeled Ripley’s Odditorium and attracted over two million visitors during the run of the fair. (In an apparent promotional gimmick, beds were provided in the Odditorium for people who "fainted" daily.) That successful exhibition led to trailer shows across the country during the 1930s, and Ripley's collections were exhibited at many major fairs and expositions, including San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Cleveland. In New York, the famed Times Square exhibit opened in 1939 on Broadway. In 1950, a year after Ripley's death, the first permanent Odditorium opened in St. Augustine, Florida.

As of December 2010, there are 32 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditoriums around the world. Odditoriums, in the spirit of Believe It or Not!, are often more than simple museums cluttered with curiosities. Some include theaters and arcades, such as the ones in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Others are constructed oddly, such as the Orlando, Florida Odditorium which is built off-level as if the building is sinking.

United States

Ripley's shark being produced


  • Buena Park (closed) – This Ripley's Museum was located in Buena Park's E-Zone district on Beach Boulevard, close to Knott's Berry Farm. This is the location where Steve Sindad broke the world record for consuming ranch dressing, drinking 61 bottles worth (about 7 gallons). It closed its doors on March 30, 2009.


  • St. Augustine – It is the oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not! and is located in the Castle Warden, was purchased shortly after his death in 1949 and opened in 1950. Prior to becoming home to his vast collections from his many travels, "The Castle", as it is known, was once a hotel which played host to many famous guests, including Ripley himself and author/owner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It was originally a Moorish Revival style mansion, built in 1887 by millionaire William Warden as a winter home. It popularity and success led Ripley's associates to open new establishments throughout the United States and the world. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is also rumored to be haunted. Segments of the most recent Ripley's TV series were filmed here, including the opening credits. Among the attractions here are a mummified cat, a 1/12 scale model of the original Ferris wheel made out of Erector sets, life and death masks of famous celebrities (including Abraham Lincoln), and shamanistic apparati from cultures around the world.
  • Panama City Beach – Opened in 2006, this Ripley's Museum is at the intersection of Front Beach Road, Middle Beach Road, and Thomas Drive on Panama City Beach and is designed to look like a 1950s luxury cruise liner that has run aground on the beach. It also has a moving 4-D theater.
  • Orlando – This museum is located on the busy International Drive tourist corridor, and is built to appear as though it is dropping into a sinkhole.
  • Key West – This Ripley's Museum is located on the famous Duval Street.


  • Ocean City – This Ripley's Museum is located on the boardwalk at Wicomico Street. It is a popular destination for tourists and it sits at the entrance to Jolly Roger's Pier Amusement Park. It features a large model of a shark that appears as if it has crashed through the museum.


  • Branson – This Ripley's museum looks like a stone edifice that was cracked by an earthquake.

New Jersey

  • Atlantic City – The Ripley's museum is on the famous Boardwalk.

New York


  • Newport – This Ripley's museum was funded by Jacob Walters and built in 1986. It is at the Historic Bayfront and one of three amusements known as Mariner Square. The other two are the Wax Works and the Undersea Gardens.

South Carolina

Odditorium in Myrtle Beach
  • Myrtle Beach – This Ripley's museum looks like a building cracked by a hurricane. It features an animatronic band playing the song "Dragostea Din Tei," an optical effect where you feel like you are being flipped upside-down, and a collection of tombstones with strange engravings. It is at the corner of 9th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. Ripley's has five other attractions in the area besides the museum: an aquarium, a moving-theater attraction, an arcade, a haunted house, and a house of mirrors.


  • Gatlinburg – The original museum, built in 1970, was destroyed by a massive fire caused by a faulty light fixture in a neighboring shop on July 14, 1992. It had to be completely rebuilt. Some of Ripley's most prized and unique possessions were consumed by the blaze. The current museum opened in 1994, with a tribute to the city's firefighters included among the collections. Artifacts salvaged from the blaze sport "I Survived The Fire" decals. It also has nearly twice the amount of exhibit space as the original. As with some other Ripley museums, it has a theme. It looks as if it has survived a major earthquake. Its interior and exterior feature cracks throughout, adhering to the theme. The Ripley's Company has since opened several other attractions in the area, including a "four-dimensional" theater, a state-of-the-art aquarium, a haunted factory, several arcades, two miniature golf courses, and a mirror maze all of which carry the Ripley's brand name and signature logo.


  • Grand Prairie – This Ripley’s Museum is located at 601 East Safari Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas. It is west of downtown Dallas on IH-30 and is on the northwest intersection of Belt Line Road and IH-30, 7 miles (11 km) east of Six Flags Over Texas.
  • San Antonio – This Ripley's Museum is located across from the historic Alamo. In the same building is a wax museum, and just a short walk down the road is Ripley's Haunted Adventure.
  • El Paso - This Ripley's Museum is located at 7051 S Desert Blvd. in Canutillo, Texas.


  • Williamsburg – This Ripley's Museum opened in 2006. It has 11 galleries and over 300 exhibits. There is also a 4D theater that shows 3D movies with added effects (air, water, scent, etc.)


  • Wisconsin Dells – This Ripley's museum looks like a plane flew through the front and has a car parked on the side. It is located in the Downtown Strip.



Ripley's purchasing ten baseball bats acquired by the Calgary Vipers in a trade
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario – This Ripley's museum is shaped like the Empire State Building fallen over, with King Kong standing on top of it. This is the second oldest Ripley's Museum in the world and is one of two in Canada. Located across the street is a Ripley's 4D Moving Theatre, and up the street there is a Louis Tussauds Wax Works which is owned by Ripley's.
  • Cavendish, Prince Edward Island – This Ripley's museum is located in a concentrated area of tourist attractions adjacent to the Prince Edward Island National Park. It is Canada's other Ripley's attraction. A lighthouse (the top broken) features the Ripley's sign. The museum is adjoined to a wax museum and also features a mini-golf attraction.

United Kingdom

  • London – This Ripley's museum is the world's largest and it opened on August 20, 2008 at the London Pavilion, 1 Piccadilly Circus. It houses over 500 exhibits from educational artifacts to the truly weird and wonderful. It is famed for its large collection of Marilyn Monroe personal belongings and interactive exhibits.
  • Blackpool – This Ripley's museum was the first and it is based in the popular holiday destination of Blackpool.
  • Great Yarmouth (closed) – There was an Odditorium in Great Yarmouth on the east coast of England. It opened in 1993 and closed in 1997.[11] It is now an indoor miniature golf course that uses some of the leftovers from the Odditorium as scenery for the holes.


  • Bangalore, India – This Ripley's Museum is at the Innovative Filmcity.
  • Jeju Island, South Korea - This Ripley’s museum is located at the Jeju Jungmun resort.
  • Pattaya, Thailand – This Ripley's museum is in Royal Garden Plaza in Pattaya.
    It appears as if an airplane has crashed into it.
  • Genting Highlands, Malaysia – This Ripley's museum is inside the First World Plaza.
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait (closed)– This Ripley's museum was located in the Hadiqat Al Sheaab Amusement Park.
  • Mandaluyong City, Philippines (closed) – This Ripley's museum was in the Shangri-La Mall in Ortigas.
  • Victoria Peak, Hong Kong (closed) – There was an Odditorium in The Peak.


  • Guadalajara – Opened recently[when?], this Ripley's museum a small one like Mexico City's location. It is near downtown.
  • Mexico City – Opened in 1992, this Ripley's museum is shaped like a medieval castle and has 14 exhibition halls within it. It was the first of three locations to open in Latin America.


  • Copenhagen – This Ripley's museum is a smaller one located close to the city hall and next to the one of Jacob McCartney Walters.


  • Gold Coast – This Ripley's museum is located at the popular tourist destination Surfers Paradise. It reopened in the new Soul Centre on January 22, 2010, featuring a band of human oddities playing songs at the entrance.


Authorities at the company insist that they thoroughly investigate everything and ensure their accuracy before they publish their research. This is emphasized on their television show, where they often say "If you see it on Ripley's, you can bet that it's real". However, two myths[specify] dispelled by MythBusters using the scientific method have appeared in their books. One myth dispelled by Snopes had previously appeared in Ripley's books.[12] If one sends a letter questioning an inaccuracy they will receive a card that says "Believe It or Not!"

See also


  1. ^ "Ripley sets up in UK". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  2. ^ "BEST SELLERS: ADVICE, HOW TO AND MISCELLANEOUS: Sunday, December 27th 2009". The New York Times. December 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Ripley Publishing launches fiction series". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  4. ^ "Random does the Twist". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  5. ^ Hartzman, Marc. "Robert L Ripley | Interviews | Entertainment | Bizarre Magazine UK". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Ripley's Believe It or Not (1930–32) (2 DVD Set)".,default,pd.html. 
  8. ^ Ripley's Believe It or Not! (2011) – IMDb
  9. ^ "Ripley's Believe It or Not! – Official Site – Cast & Producers Bio". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Believe it or not, collection has gone overseas". "Great Yarmouth Mercury". February 28, 1997. 
  12. ^ "Ma Sacrée Toux!". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 

External links

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  • Ripley's Believe It or Not — Ripley’s Believe It or Not [Ripleys Believe It or Not] a US newspaper feature created in 1918 by Robert Ripley (1893–1949) who also drew ↑cartoons (= comic drawings). It brings together strange facts and customs from around the world. Ripley also …   Useful english dictionary

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