Thursday, June 25, 2009

Believe It or Not!

News broke this afternoon that two American cultural icons - actress Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009) and singer Michael Jackson (1958-2009) - died today, but I am focusing on a third, who died 60 years ago: Robert L. Ripley (1890-1949). The cartoonist, adventurer, and collector of the odd and unusual left an enormous legacy that began with the first "Believe It or Not!" comic strip. The panel was syndicated and led to a 19-year run of radio shows, followed by a TV program that ended with Ripley passing out as "Taps" was played during the 13th episode (he died 3 days later). The cartoon is still in syndication and has been collected in 100s of books. The dozens of Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums are based on the objects Ripley gathered during his extensive and exotic travels. I have been to the museums in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Williamsburg, Virginia; and Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was at the Atlantic City museum that I saw the sketch of the Mona Lisa (below) from across the room - only to find, after looking at it up close, that it was made of toast! A must-have at each franchised museum is a shrunken head, but as the number of museums increases, authentic tsantsas are becoming rarer and more difficult to find. In fact, this post was prompted by learning (from my Dad) that Ripley's is hurting in its hunt for oddities. With no disrespect intended, maybe some can be found in Michael Jackson's estate...

1 comment:

  1. Nice shout out! Thanks for the nice write up! :)
    Ripley Entertainment Inc.


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