A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert “Consider It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who gained worldwide fame by celebrating the world's strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to consider within the unbelievable.
As portrayed by acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley’s life is the stuff of a basic American fairy story. Buck-toothed and cursed by shyness, Ripley turned his sense of being an outsider into an appreciation for the strangeness of the world. After promoting his first cartoon to Time journal at age eighteen, extra cartooning triumphs adopted, however it was his “Consider It or Not” conceit and the wildly well-liked radio exhibits it birthed that might make him one of probably the most profitable entertainment figures of his time and spur him to look the globe’s farthest corners for weird details, unique human curiosities, and surprising phenomena.
Ripley delighted in making outrageous declarations that by some means all the time turned out to be true—reminiscent of that Charles Lindbergh was solely the sixty-seventh man to fly throughout the Atlantic or that “The Star Spangled Banner” was not the nationwide anthem. Assisted by an unique harem of feminine admirers and by ex-banker Norbert Pearlroth, a faithful researcher who spoke eleven languages, Ripley concurrently embodied the spirit of Peter Pan, the fearlessness of Marco Polo and the advertising savvy of P. T. Barnum.
In a really actual sense, Ripley sought to remake the world’s aesthetic. He demanded respect for many who have been labeled “eccentrics” or “freaks”—whether or not it be E. L. Blystone, who wrote 1,615 alphabet letters on a grain of rice, or the person who might swallow his personal nostril.
By the Nineteen Thirties Ripley possessed an enormous fortune, a personal yacht, and a twenty-eight room mansion stocked with such “oddities” as shrunken heads and medieval torture devices, and his pioneering firsts in print, radio, and tv have been tapping into one thing deep within the American consciousness—a style for the titillating and unique, and a fascination with the quickest, largest, dumbest and most eldritch. At present, that legacy continues and may be seen in reality TV, YouTube, America’s Funniest House Movies, Jackass, MythBusters and a number of different pop-tradition phenomena.
In the long run Robert L. Ripley modified every part. The supreme irony of his life, which was devoted to exalting the unusual and uncommon, is that he might have been probably the most superb oddity of all.
From the Hardcover version.