Ripley's Believe It or Not!

"Believe It or Not" redirects here. For other uses, see Believe It or Not (disambiguation).
Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not (January 12, 1941)

Ripley's Believe It or Not! is an American 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, comic books, 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 unrelated 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.[1]

Other writers and researchers included Lester Byck. In 1930, Ripley moved to the New York American and picked up by the King Features Syndicate, being quickly syndicated in an international basis.

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. The current artist is John Graziano and current researcher is Sabrina Sieck.[2]

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, John Hix's Strange as it Seems, 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, screws, nails and razor blades." Schulz's dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts' Snoopy.


Some notable books:

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

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.[3] 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.[4][5][6] At the height of his popularity Robert Ripley received thousands of letters a day from the public,[7] 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.[8]

The people whose items are featured in such books as Strikingly True, have what Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibits and Archives at Ripley Entertainment Inc. describes as an obsession. “Whatever it is they're after, it is so important to them that all the rest of the world can go on without them. They want to make something that makes them immortal, makes them a little different than you and me.”[9] Despite the wide range of true and unbelievable art, sculpture, photographs, interactive devices, animal oddities, and recycled objects contained within the Ripley's collection, rarely considered are alien or witchcraft-type stories, which are, according to Meyers, difficult to prove. To be included in Ripley's Believe It or Not books, museums, or television shows, items must undergo scrutiny from Ripley's staff and be 100% authenticated.[9]


On April 14, 1930, Ripley brought "Believe It or Not" to radio, the first of several series heard on NBC, CBS and the Mutual Broadcasting System.[10] 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 (1938–40) 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.[11]

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.

Films, television, Internet, and computer game

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



Internet and games


Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum at Innovative Film City in Bangalore, India.

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. Expected to open summer 2016 is the first Odditorium in the Netherlands, at Dam square in Amsterdam.


(Alphabetical, by country)



The Netherlands

United Kingdom

North America


Ripley's BION Niagara Falls


United States

Ripley's shark being produced
Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Ocean City, Maryland
New Jersey
New York
South Carolina
Odditorium in Myrtle Beach




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 claims appearing in their books have been dubbed "myths" by MythBusters. One claim which had previously appeared in Ripley's books, concerning an accidental execution of 1,200 Turkish prisoners, has had its accuracy called into question by Snopes.[19] If one sends a letter questioning an inaccuracy they will receive a card that says "Believe It or Not!"

Ripley's has reported the urban legend of Frank Tower - an individual who was supposed to have survived the sinkings of the RMS Titanic, RMS Empress of Ireland, and RMS Lusitania - as being factual. However, this story has been debunked by several sources.[20][21]

See also


  1. "Norbert Pearlroth, 89, Researcher For 52 Years For 'Believe It Or Not'". The New York Times. April 15, 1983. Retrieved 2015-01-11. Norbert Pearlroth, who combed hundreds of thousands of books in the New York Public Library over 52 years as sole researcher for Ripley's Believe It or Not, died of heart and kidney diseases Thursday at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. He was 89 years old and lived in Brooklyn. ...
  2. "Ripley's Believe It or Not Comic Strip on". Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  3. "Ripley sets up in UK". 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  4. "BEST SELLERS: ADVICE, HOW TO AND MISCELLANEOUS: Sunday, December 27th 2009". The New York Times. December 27, 2009.
  5. "Ripley Publishing launches fiction series". 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  6. "Random does the Twist". 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  7. Hartzman, Marc. "Robert L Ripley | Interviews | Entertainment | Bizarre Magazine UK". Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  8. "Send Us Your Stuff!". Ripley Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
  9. 1 2 "Maynard's Spooky Action...An Interview with Edward Meyer from Ripley's Believe It or Not". The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  10. Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Pp. 76-78.
  11. "Old Time Radio Shows - Ripley's Believe It or Not! (1930)". Matinee Classics. 1930-04-14. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  12. "Ripley's Believe It or Not (1930–32) (2 DVD Set)".
  13. "Ripley's Believe It or Not! The Animated Series". 14 July 1999.
  14. "Ripley's Believe It or Not! – Official Site – Cast & Producers Bio". Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  15. "Internet Pinball Machine Database: Stern 'Ripley's Believe It or Not!®'". June 9, 2012.
  16. "Believe it or not, collection has gone overseas". "Great Yarmouth Mercury". February 28, 1997. Archived from the original on 2004-11-28.
  17. "Work On New Aquarium Could Start This Year - CityNews". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  18. "Museo de cera". Museo de cera. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  19. "Ma Sacrée Toux!". Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  20. Spignes, Stephen J. (2012), "The Titanic For Dummies", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., retrieved 1 August 2014
  21. Molony, Senan (2004), "On the Trail of 'Lucky' Tower", Encyclopedia Titanica, retrieved 1 August 2014
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