Robert LeRoy Ripley was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the world famous Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd 'facts' from around the world.
Subjects covered in Ripley's cartoons and text ranged from sports feats to little known facts about unusual and exotic sites, but what ensured the concept's popularity may have been that Ripley also included items submitted by readers, who supplied photographs of a wide variety of small town American trivia, ranging from unusually shaped vegetables to oddly marked domestic animals, all documented by photographs and then depicted by Ripley's drawings. He died on broadcast during his weekly show May 27, 1949.
In 1919 Ripley married Beatrice Roberts. He made his first trip around the world in 1922, delineating a travel journal in installments. This ushered in a new topic for his cartoons: unusual and exotic foreign locales and cultures. Because he took the veracity of his work quite seriously, in 1923, Ripley hired a researcher and linguist named Norbert Pearlroth as a full-time assistant. That same year his feature moved from the New York Globe to the New York Post.
Throughout the 1920s, Ripley continued to broaden the scope of his work and his popularity increased greatly. He published both a travel journal and a guide to the game of handball in 1925 and, in 1926, became the New York state handball champion and wrote a book on boxing. With a proven track record as a versatile writer and artist, he attracted the attention of publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, who managed the King Features Syndicate. In 1929, Hearst was responsible for Believe It or Not! making its syndicated debut in seventeen papers worldwide. With the success of this series assured, Ripley capitalized on his fame by getting the first book collection of his newspaper panel series published.