By Neal Thompson
An Amazon most sensible e-book of the Month, might 2013
A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist grew to become globetrotting millionaire who gained foreign popularity through celebrating the world's strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to think within the unbelievable.
As portrayed by way of acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley’s existence is the stuff of a vintage American fairy story. Buck-toothed and cursed by way of shyness, Ripley became his experience of being an interloper into an appreciation for the strangeness of the realm. After promoting his first caricature to Time magazine at age eighteen, extra cartooning triumphs undefined, however it was once his “Believe It or Not” conceit and the wildly well known radio exhibits it birthed that will make him essentially the most winning leisure figures of his time and spur him to go looking the globe’s farthest corners for strange proof, unique human curiosities, and surprising phenomena.
Ripley thrilled in making outrageous declarations that in some way continuously became out to be true—such as that Charles Lindbergh was once in basic terms the sixty-seventh guy to fly around the Atlantic or that “The big name Spangled Banner” used to be not the nationwide anthem. Assisted through an unique harem of girl admirers and by way of ex-banker Norbert Pearlroth, a faithful researcher who spoke 11 languages, Ripley at the same time embodied the spirit of Peter Pan, the fearlessness of Marco Polo and the selling savvy of P. T. Barnum.
In a really actual experience, Ripley sought to remake the world’s aesthetic. He demanded recognize should you have been categorized “eccentrics” or “freaks”—whether it's E. L. Blystone, who wrote 1,615 alphabet letters on a grain of rice, or the guy who may perhaps swallow his personal nose.
By the Thirties Ripley possessed an unlimited fortune, a personal yacht, and a twenty-eight room mansion stocked with such “oddities” as shrunken heads and medieval torture units, and his pioneering firsts in print, radio, and tv have been tapping into whatever deep within the American consciousness—a flavor for the titillating and unique, and a fascination with the quickest, greatest, dumbest and weirdest. at the present time, that legacy maintains and will be obvious in fact television, YouTube, America’s Funniest domestic video clips, Jackass, MythBusters and a bunch of alternative pop-culture phenomena.
In the tip Robert L. Ripley replaced everything. The superb irony of his existence, which used to be devoted to exalting the unusual and weird, is that he could have been the main awesome oddity of all.
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Extra info for A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley
In Buenos Aires I met a v e r y eccentric A r g e n t i n e w r i t e r w h o s e n a m e w a s , o r is, O m a r V i g n o l e ; I d o n ' t k n o w if he is still l i v i n g . H e w a s a giant of a man and carried a heavy w a l k i n g stick. O n c e , in a m i d t o w n r e s t a u r a n t w h e r e he h a d i n v i t e d m e t o d i n n e r , h e t u r n e d t o m e at t h e t a b l e , m o t i o n i n g m e t o a seat, a n d said in a b o o m i n g v o i c e that c o u l d b e h e a r d t h r o u g h o u t t h e r o o m , w h i c h w a s filled w i t h r e g u l a r c u s t o m e r s : " S i t d o w n , O m a r V i g n o l e !
A n d s e v eral o f t h e m w a n t t o t h r a s h t h e d a y l i g h t s o u t o f m e ; I ' d r a t h e r h a v e t h e m d o it t o y o u . " Lost in the City 43 V i g n o l e h a d b e e n an a g r o n o m i s t i n a n A r g e n t i n e p r o v i n c e a n d h a d b r o u g h t b a c k a c o w t h a t b e c a m e his inseparable f r i e n d . H e u s e d t o w a l k all o v e r B u e n o s A i r e s w i t h his c o w , l e a d i n g h e r b y a r o p e . A r o u n d that t i m e , h e p u b l i s h e d s o m e b o o k s , all w i t h i n t r i g u i n g titles: What the Cow Thinks, My Cow and /, e t c .
H e r i n v o c a t i o n s b e c a m e m o r e and m o r e u r g e n t a n d h e r spirited heart w a s s l o w l y l e a d i n g m e t o a p r e m a t u r e d e s t r u c t i o n . L o v e , in s u c h doses, is n o t g o o d f o r m a l n u t r i t i o n . A n d my malnutrition was becoming more dramatic every day. SHYNESS I r e a l l y l i v e d m a n y o f t h e first y e a r s o f m y life, and p e r h a p s m a n y o f t h e n e x t o n e s and t h e o n e s a f t e r that, as a k i n d o f d e a f - m u t e .