Iconic Trivia Column “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” Began Life As?
Answer: A Sports Cartoon
In 1918, Robert Ripley was a young cartoonist for the New York Globe whose entire job at the paper revolved around creating sports cartoons and illustrations for the daily sports section. One day, when feeling uninspired and searching for material to draw, he decided to sketch out a panel of cartoons highlighting various sports oddities, records, and goofs (trivia, along with sports and art, was another passion of his). He titled the panel “Champs and Chumps“.
The next year (1919), Ripley began adding items unrelated to sports and changed the title to “Believe It or Not!“. The panel was a huge hit with the readers and quickly became a weekly feature in the paper. In 1929, the comic ran in all of William Hearst’s newspapers around the world. The fame of the column only increased from there and over the ensuing decades Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” empire came to include not only newspaper columns, but museums, radio shows, TV shows, books, and theaters. Not a bad run for what started off as the doodles of a sports illustrator on a bad day.