Mark Sloan, Roger Manley and Michelle Van Parys, Curators
As the leading chronicler the odd, Robert Ripley, born in Santa Rosa, California in 1893, became a world-renowned personality. The Believe it or Not! phenomenon took hold of the popular imagination between the World Wars and continues to fascinate to this day. There has yet to be an examination of the documentation that Ripley required from those claiming to be bizarre and unique, and this exhibition fills that void.
In 1913, working as a sports cartoonist for the New York Globe, Robert Ripley decided to publish a selection of sports oddities he had collected. His editor persuaded him to change the title from Champs and Chumps to Believe it or Not. Syndicated widely by the early 1920s, Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon, expanded to cover much more than sports, would eventually reach an audience of 80 million readers. For over twenty years, Ripley is thought to have received as many as one million letters per year from both fans and self-proclaimed 'wonders.' Organized in celebration of Robert Ripley's centennial, this exhibit is a scholarly overview of the materials Robert Ripley kept to record the human exploits that fascinated his worldwide readership.
By the time of Ripley's death in 1949, his cartoons were printed in 337 newspapers across the world, and translated into more than seventeen languages. The Ripley 'Odditorium' which began as a sideshow at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair, paved the road for a weekly radio show and eventually a television series.
Curated by Mark Sloan, Roger Manley and Michelle Van Parys, the exhibit features 126 vintage photographs, letters, sworn affidavits, notarized napkins and other artifacts that were used to substantiate and enliven outlandish claims submitted to Riply. These, along with many of the cartoons, were generously lent by Ripley Entertainment Inc.
NUMBER OF WORKS: 126 framed photographs, letters and cartoons
TOUR DATES: May 1994 - October 2001
PUBLICATION: Publication, Bullfinch, 1993