Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
If you have visited Florida, it is likely that you have visited a Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museum. These are located in Orlando, St Augustine, Newport, Key West and Panama Bay.
The Ripley behind this attractions name was one Robert Leroy Ripley. Robert had an insatiable interest in the curious and inexplicable and spent 40 of his years globetrotting to gather more of the wierd and wonderful. One of the three homes he owned was in Hi Mount Florida so he obviously loved the place.
Ripley was born on Christmas Day 1890 and died at the reltively early age of 59 in 1949. But, boy, did he pack a lot of living in!
Apart from his interest in the amazing stories he was also a New York handball champion, an anthropologist, wrote a book on boxing and did a lot of Charity works (particularly during the war) He was also credited with encouraging the president of the U. S to adopt The Star Spangled Banner as the National anthem. This followed one of his cartoons that made mock of the fact that America did not have one.
At the time that he started his travels he was employed by The New York Globe as a journalist and cartoonist. Later, William Randolph Hearst took an interest in Robert and got his column syndicated in 17 newspapers worldwide.
The start of his museums was conceived when he started a radio series that ran from 1930 to 1948. He presented his programmes from the oddest of places; in a snake pit, underwater, in the air and in a cave are some of the places recorded.
The first museum he opened was in Chicago and named THe Odditorium. This was swiftly followed by more openings and today the Ripley organisation has bloomed into a leisure giant.
The TV programme started as his radio programme finished but sadly he collapsed making the 13th programme and died of a heart attack on may 27th 1949.
Behind every great man is (usually) a woman they say, but in Ripleys case it was a man. His assistant was one Norbert Pearlroth and he worked tirelessly checking facts and verifying the many strange tales that poured in from his viewers, listeners and readers. He worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 52 years and a lot of credit for Ripleys success must go to him.
Finally, one strange fact about Ripley himself has emerged. During his life he had one of the largest car collections in the world. . . . but he never learned to drive!
Also, Charles Schulz once sent him a story about his dog who ate glass; that man became the noted cartoonist and the dog the inspiration behind Snoopy in Peanuts.
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Page added on: 12 April 2010
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