Ripley, Robert

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Ripley, Robert Gender: M
Robert LeRoy Ripley
born on 22 February 1890 at 01:20 (= 01:20 AM )
Place Santa Rosa, California, 38n26, 122w43
Timezone PST h8w (is standard time)
Data source
Orig source not known
Rodden Rating C
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 03°45' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 13°35 Asc.s_sagcol.18.gif 03°51'

Robert Ripley


American illustrator, cartoonist and adventurer. His name became synonymous with all things exotic when his daily "Believe It or Not!" column appeared in newspapers with readership of over 80 million people in 17 languages. Self-educated, he received honorary titles and degrees and became the first cartoonist to become a millionaire.

Oldest of three children, his father Isaac was a carpenter and his mother Lillie a housewife. He felt he was a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks. In high school he drew cartoons for the school paper and sold his first sketch of a woman to "Life" magazine for $8 in 1908. Moving to San Francisco in 1909, he began illustrating sports stories for the Chronicle.

Seeking fame, he moved to New York City in 1912 and the following year joined the New York Globe as a sports cartoonist. A lover of baseball, he pitched for a semi-pro team and at age 20 earned a tryout with the New York Giants. He broke his arm while pitching in his first professional game, ending his career. In December 1918 he began drawing a sports-related "Believe It or Not!" column. His income skyrocketed to $100,000 a year when it was syndicated in King Features, part of the Hearst newspaper empire. He drew his cartoon each day between 7 and 11 AM, always drawing it upside-down.

Ripley was curious about everything and his love of travel took him the equivalent of 18 times around the world. His serious travel began in 1920 when he made his first trek across Europe followed two years later with visits to Central and South America. In 1925 he traveled extensively in the Far East which began his love affair with all things Chinese. A true collector, he owned houses that included a mansion in Mamaroneck, NY. Though he was not a swimmer, he owned an odd assortment of boats including a Chinese junk. Ripley owned several automobiles, although he never learned to drive. He inaugurated a network radio show from mid-ocean in 1931 and was the first to simultaneously broadcast to every nation in the world assisted by a corps of translators. During the World's Fair in 1933 Ripley opened his first Odditorium, a combination sideshow, freak show and natural history museum. There are now six Odditoriums worldwide.

A flamboyant publicity hound, he liked to carry canes and wear two-toned shoes. In later life he surrounded himself with celebrities hosting lavish parties. In the 1940's he had both radio and TV shows and would talk endlessly about something he was interested in, but not about himself. World War II forced him to cut back on travel and he gained weight and began drinking heavily.

Extremely shy with a slight stammer, Ripley was known as a lady's man. He married Beatrice Carlisle, a Ziegfeld Follies girl, in 1918, but soon began seeing other women. The couple was childless and they divorced in 1923. He never remarried.

Near collapse, on 5/23/1949, Ripley did his last episode of his TV show, checked into a Manhattan hospital and died 5/27/1949 of a heart attack at 5:00 PM local time (according to the NY Times obituary). He suffered from hypertension.

After his death, Castle Warden, a historic landmark in St. Augustine, FL, became the home of his most unique collection of art, oddities and curiosities.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released December 1918 (Began column Believe it or Not)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Garth Allen quotes Bob Considine "The Modern Marco Polo," in AA 3/1962 for December 26, 1893 at 1:20 AM in Santa Rosa, CA; LMR had given this record a B rating but PT downgraded it in October 2006 after Jim Gorham prompted further investigation. PT notes that his obituary in the NY Times said he was born on Christmas Day, no year or age given Jim Gorham writes: "I found out he was buried with his parents in Santa Rosa. At Find A you can view several enlargement photos of the common gravestone which has all three of them on it. His portion clearly shows 1890 -1949. The stone also has the "Believe It Or Not" slogan engraved on it, so I'm sure this is the right headstone. Anyway, his parents were Isaac D. and Lillie Belle Ripley (can't find out her maiden name, maybe it's in a biography). His full name is given as Robert L. (for Leroy) Ripley.

3) Going to I brought up the 1900 (enumerated 6/9/1900) Federal Census for the Santa Rosa township where he was born. There is a listing for a son name "Leroy Ripley" on line 70 with parents Isaac and Lillie Ripley.

It gives his age at last birthday as 9, which points to 1890 as the year of birth! It also shows a younger sister ( looks like "Effie") born in July 1893, the same year in which his bio apparently says he was born! He also had another sister per some websites, so she must have been born after 1900.

On 23/4/2014 Sy Scholfield quotes "A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert 'Believe It or Not' Ripley" by Neal Thompson (Random House, 2013), pp. 7-8: "On October 3, 1889 [in Santa Rosa], Lillie Belle—twenty-one and pregnant— married thirty-five-year-old Isaac Ripley, their union earning a brief mention in the Sonoma Democrat. . . A son arrived five months later, although the exact year and date of birth would remain a lingering mystery. Possibly to prevent profilers from revealing his mother's premarital pregnancy, LeRoy Robert Ripley would never admit to being born on February 22, 1890; on passport applications and other documents he'd declare 1891, 1892, 1893, or 1894 as his birth year. He'd also later claim to have been born on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve."

Scholfield changed the data from the 1893 to the 1890 date, keeping the time given by Considine. Because there is no source for this time the data is rated CX.


  • Vocation : Art : Cartoonist (Believe It Or Not)
  • Vocation : Business : Top executive (Administrator, CEO)
  • Vocation : Business/Marketing : Product Marketing (Shoes, fabrics)
  • Vocation : Writers : Columnist/ journalist
  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction
  • Notable : Book Collection : American Book