Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Wikis


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Believe It or Not cartoon panel for January 12, 1941

Ripley's Believe It or Not! is a franchise, founded by Robert LeRoy 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, a book series and a pinball game (produced by Stern Pinball, Inc.).

The Ripley collection includes 20,000 photographs, 20,000 artifacts and more than 130,000 cartoon panels. With 50-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, games and mobile phone content.


Syndicated feature panel

"Ripley’s Believe It or Not!" is a registered trademark of Ripley Entertainment, Inc. 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 News. 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 and Don Wimmer.

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 Cartoonist Society 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.

Films, television, internet and computer game

Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Genre Non-fiction
Created by Robert L. Ripley
Country of origin USA
Original channel NBC
Original run 1949 – 1950
Starring Robert L. Ripley

Robert St. John
Doug Storer

Running time 30 min.

Second channel ABC
Second run 1982 – 1986
Starring Jack Palance

Catherine Shirriff
Holly Palance
Marie Osmond

Running time 60 min.
No. of episodes 79

Third channel TBS
Third run 2000 - 2003
Starring Dean Cain

Kelly Packard
Gregory Jbara

Running time 60 min.
No. of episodes 88
External links
IMDb profile (first run)
IMDb profile (second run)
IMDb profile (third run)
IMDb profile (fourth run) summary (third run)

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[1].
  • 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, Ripley died May 27, 1949 of a heart attack and several of Ripley's friends appeared as the 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.
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! aired from 1982 to 1986 on the American ABC television network. Character actor Jack Palance hosted the popular series throughout its run, while three different co-hosts appeared from season to season, including Palance's daughter, Holly Palance, actress Catherine Shirriff, and singer Marie Osmond. The 1980s series reran on the Sci-Fi Channel (UK) and Sci-Fi Channel (US) during the 1990s; it is currently airing on NBC Universal's horror/suspense-themed cable channel Chiller.
  • An animated series, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, was produced 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! also debuted in 2000 on TBS. Hosted by actor Dean Cain, the series took a slightly more sensationalistic approach to its subject matter. 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.
  • held a Dear Mr. Ripley contest where 10 contestants were chosen to be voted upon as to which of their stories is the most unbelievable. The contestants included a two-faced kitten, a car hurdler, a painting on human flesh canvas, a swallowed golfball by a snake, an unopen deck of cards in a thin neck bottle, a collector of Converse shoes with over 400 pairs, a man that survived a dumptruck falling on him, a painting made of nail polish, a kid that pogos and plays sports at the same time, and a tongue swallower. The winners were announced on December 15, 2006.
  • The puzzle-solving game Ripley's Believe It or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu was published and developed by Sanctuary Woods, and released in 1995.


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. 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 March 2009, there are 35 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 one in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Others are constructed oddly, such as the Orlando, Florida Odditorium which is built off-level as if the building is sinking. The first one was opened in Chicago in 1933, where, in an apparent promotional gimmick, beds were provided in the Odditorium for people who "fainted" daily.

United States

Ripley's shark being produced


  • Buena Park, California - This Ripley's Odditorium 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). The Buena Park location closed its doors on March 30, 2009.


  • St. Augustine - Ripley's oldest Odditorium, located in the Castle Warden, was purchased shortly after his death in 1949 and opened in 1950. Prior to becoming home to Ripley's 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. "The Castle" was originally a Moorish Revival style mansion, built in 1887 by millionaire William Warden as a winter home. The popularity and success of this museum led Ripley's associates to open new establishments throughout the United States and the world. But "The Castle" remains the permanent home of Ripley's personal collections and is the flagship of the Odditoriums. 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 Abe 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. The Panama City Beach Ripley's Believe It or Not location also has a moving 4-D theater.
  • Orlando - This Odditorium is located on the busy International Drive tourist corridor, and is built to appear as though it is dropping into a sinkhole.
  • Key West - The Ripley's Museum is located on the famous Duval Street.


  • Ocean City - The Ripley's Museum in Ocean City, Maryland 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 - The Branson, Missouri museum looks like a stone edifice that was cracked by an earthquake.

New Jersey

New York

  • New York City - The Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium re-opened in Manhattan on 42nd Street in July 2007.


  • Newport - The Newport, Oregon museum was funded by Jacob Walters and built prior to 1986, as. The Ripley's Museum in Newport, Oregon is at the Historic Bayfront. 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 - The Myrtle Beach, S.C. museum looks like a building cracked by a hurricane. It is at the corner of 9th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, across from the famed pavilion. Ripley's has five other attractions in Myrtle Beach besides the museum: an aquarium, a moving-theater attraction, an arcade, a haunted house, and a house of mirrors.

New Mexico


  • Gatlinburg - The original Gatlinburg, Tennessee museum, built in 1970 by Douglas Schnittker, was destroyed by a massive fire caused by a faulty light fixture in a neighboring shop on July 14, 1992. The museum 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. The new building also has nearly twice the amount of exhibit space as the original. As with some other Ripley museums, this building has a theme. The museum looks as if it has survived a major earthquake. The interior and exterior of the building feature cracks throughout, adhering to the theme. The original museum featured the same 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 attractions and a mirror maze all of which carry the Ripley's brand name and signature logo.


  • Grand Prairie - Ripley’s Museum is located on 601 East Safari Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas. It is west of downtown Dallas, Texas on I-30 Highway, and it is on the northwest intersection of Belt Line Road & I-30,7 miles East of Six Flags.
  • San Antonio - The 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.


  • Williamsburg - This Ripley's Museum in Williamsburg opened in 2006. The Museum 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 - In the family resort town of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.



Ripley's purchasing ten baseball bats acquired by the Calgary Vipers in a trade
  • Cavendish, Prince Edward Island - Canada's only other Ripley's is located in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. The museum is located in a concentrated area of tourist attractions adjacent to the Prince Edward Island National Park. 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 - The world's largest Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum opened on August 20, 2008 at the London Pavilion, 1 Piccadilly Circus.
  • Blackpool - The first Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum opened in the UK 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 1993 and it closed in 1997.[2] It is now an indoor miniature golf course that actually uses some of the leftovers from the Odditorium as scenery for the holes.


  • Bangalore, India - The Ripley's Museum is at the Innovative Filmcity in Bangalore.
  • Pattaya, Thailand - The Ripley's Museum is in Royal Garden Plaza in Pattaya.
    It appears as if an airplane has crashed into it.
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait - The Ripley's museum is located in the Hadiqat Al Sheaab Amusement Park.
  • Hong Kong, China (closed) - There was an Odditorium in The Peak, Hong Kong. It opened early 1998.


  • Guadalajara, Mexico - Opened recently, is a small museum like Mexico City's museum. It is near downtown of Guadalajara.
  • Mexico City, Mexico - Opened in 1992, the Mexico City's Ripley's Museum is shaped like a medieval castle and has 14 exhibition halls within it. It was the first of several Ripley's museums to open in Latin America.


  • Copenhagen, Denmark - A smaller museum located close to the city hall of Copenhagen, next to the museum of Jacob McCartney Walters.


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

Around the world

  • In 2006, the Philippines made a local adaptation of Ripley's Believe it or Not but 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.


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 dispelled by Mythbusters using the scientific method have appeared in their books. One myth dispelled by Snopes had previously appeared in Ripley's books.[3]

See also


External links

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