Ripley, a cartoon-art icon, was the first person to be elected to the Trivia Hall of Fame. After working as an illustrator in San Francisco in 1913, the future founder of the entertainment empire based on the premise that “truth can be stranger than fiction” first came to New York at the age of 23, encouraged by his friend Jack London to go to pursue his baseball dream -- or at least make more money from his drawings. He landed a job as an illustrator with the New York Globe, and in 1914 he tried out for the New York Giants -- and made the team! Unfortunately, in his very first game, he broke his pitching arm.
With his baseball career over, Ripley returned to his job at the Globe and to living a full and rich New York City life that included marrying a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl, living in a 28-room stone mansion on a private island off Mamaroneck, and hosting grand parties during Prohibition that would dazzle even the most jaded New Yorker. His legacy includes a global company that operates more than 60 attractions, plus publishing and broadcast divisions that oversee the globally syndicated Believe It or Not! television show, best-selling books, and the popular syndicated cartoon strip that still runs daily in 200 newspapers in 42 countries.
Now Believe It or Not! returns to the city where, in 1918, Ripley coined that famous phrase. Ripley’s Times Square Odditorium houses the greatest collection of unbelievably odd and unusual items ever assembled under one roof, from this world and beyond. The collection captures the essence of Ripley, the eccentric collector who proved to the world that truth could indeed be stranger than fiction.
Like the 29 other Ripley’s Believe It or Not! attractions around the globe, each item inside Ripley’s Times Square appeals to man’s basic curiosity and desire to know more about this world...and New York City. You’ll find only authentic, original, and unbelievable exhibits, including locks of hair that belonged to Elvis Presley, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and George Washington, Ripley’s collection of Olympic torches, and animal oddities including a two-headed calf, a six-legged cow and an albino giraffe!
The Museum features Ripley’s collection of 24 shrunken heads that were the spoils of war for the Jivaro Indians of Ecuador. Believe it or not, Ripley’s Times Square will boast more shrunken heads on display than the American Museum of Natural History.
Also highlighted is Babe Ruth’s baseball uniform for “The Believe It or Not’s.” On May 5, 1939, in Madison Square Garden, Robert Ripley led a band of celebrities against an equally elite team called the Nine Old Men, led by journalist Lowell Thomas, to benefit the Boys Club of New York. The game featured more than 60 celebrities, including all-time baseball greats Ruth and pitcher Walter Johnson. Also playing for Ripley’s team were boxing champion Jack Dempsey, comedians Jimmy Durante, Bugs Baer and W. C. Fields, actors George Raft and Al Jolson, World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker, and billionaire William Randolph Hearst Jr.
Among other displays, there’s a 3,197-lb. meteorite that fell to earth during the Ming Dynasty in 1529 and was found in Guangxi, Nantan County, China in 1958. Composed of 92% iron, the meteorite is the third-largest Nantan meteorite on display anywhere in the world.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square is open 365 days a year, 9am-1am. Admission is $24.95; kids 4-12, $18.95; students, seniors and military personnel, $21.95.
For more information go online to www.ripleysnewyork.com, or call 212-398-3133.