REUBEN GARRETT LUCIUS GOLDBERG (July 4, 1883 – December 7, 1970),
known best as RUBE GOLDBERG, was an American cartoonist , sculptor,
author, engineer, and inventor.
Goldberg is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting
complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted
ways, giving rise to the term
Rube Goldberg machines for any similar
gadget or process. Goldberg received many honors in his lifetime,
including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948 and
the Banshees' Silver Lady Award in 1959.
Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the
National Cartoonists Society
National Cartoonists Society , and he is the namesake of the Reuben
Award , which the organization awards to the
Cartoonist of the Year.
He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as
Rube Goldberg Machine Contests , which challenge participants to make
a complicated machine to perform a simple task.
* 1 Personal life
* 2 Career
* 3 Cultural legacy
* 3.1 Film and television
* 3.2 Games
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 External links
Goldberg was born July 4, 1883, in
San Francisco ,
California , to
Jewish parents Max and Hannah (Cohen) Goldberg. He was the third of
seven children, three of whom died as children (older brother Garrett,
younger brother Walter, and younger sister Lillian also survived).
Goldberg began tracing illustrations when he was four years old, and
first took professional drawing lessons when he was eleven.
Goldberg married Irma Seeman on October 17, 1916. They lived at 98
Central Park West in
New York City
New York City and had two sons named Thomas and
World War II
World War II Goldberg's sons changed their surname, at
Goldberg's insistence, because of the amount of hatred towards him
stemming from the political nature of his cartoons. Thomas chose the
surname of George for his brother, and George, wanting to keep a sense
of family cohesiveness, adopted the same surname. Thomas and George's
children now run a company called RGI (
Rube Goldberg Incorporated) to
maintain the Goldberg name. John George (Thomas's son) is assisted by
his cousin Jennifer George (George's daughter) and John's son Joshua
George to keep the family name alive.
Rube Goldberg with family, 1929
Goldberg's father was a
San Francisco police and fire commissioner,
who encouraged the young Reuben to pursue a career in engineering.
Rube graduated from the
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley in 1904
with a degree in Engineering and was hired by the city of San
Francisco as an engineer for the Water and Sewers Department. After
six months he resigned his position with the city to join the San
Francisco Chronicle where he became a sports cartoonist. The
following year, he took a job with the
San Francisco Bulletin, where
he remained until he moved to
New York City
New York City in 1907, finding
employment as a cartoonist with the
New York Evening Mail .
New York Evening Mail was syndicated to the first newspaper
McClure Newspaper Syndicate , giving Goldberg's
cartoons a wider distribution, and by 1915 he was earning $25,000 per
year and being billed by the paper as America's most popular
Arthur Brisbane had offered Goldberg $2,600 per year in
1911 in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to move to William Randolph
Hearst 's newspaper chain, and in 1915 raised the offer to $50,000 per
year. Rather than lose Goldberg to Hearst, the New York Evening Mail
matched the salary offer and formed the Evening Mail Syndicate to
syndicate Goldberg's cartoons nationally.
Goldberg was syndicated by the
McNaught Syndicate from 1922 until
A prolific artist, Goldberg produced several cartoon series
Mike and Ike (They Look Alike) , Boob McNutt
, Foolish Questions, What Are You Kicking About, Telephonies, Lala
Palooza, The Weekly Meeting of the Tuesday Women's Club, and the
uncharacteristically serious soap-opera strip, Doc Wright, which ran
for 10 months beginning January 29, 1933. The cartoons that brought
him lasting fame involved a character named Professor Lucifer
Gorgonzola Butts. In that series, Goldberg drew labeled schematics of
the comical "inventions" that would later bear his name.
The popularity of Goldberg's cartoons was such that the term
"Goldbergian" was in use in print by 1915, and "Rube Goldberg" by
1928. "Rube Goldberg" appeared in the Random House Dictionary of the
English Language in 1966 meaning "having a fantastically complicated
improvised appearance", or "deviously complex and impractical." :118
The 1915 usage of "Goldbergian" was in reference to Goldberg's early
comic strip Foolish Questions which he drew from 1909 to 1934, while
later use of the terms "Goldbergian", "Rube Goldberg" and " Rube
Goldberg machine" refer to the crazy inventions for which he is now
best known from his strip The Inventions of Professor Lucifer
Gorgonzola Butts, drawn from 1914 to 1964. :305
The corresponding term in the UK was, and still is, "Heath Robinson
", after the English illustrator with an equal devotion to odd
machinery, also portraying sequential or chain reaction elements.
Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin (1931)
Goldberg's work was commemorated posthumously in 1995 with the
inclusion of Rube Goldberg's Inventions, depicting his 1931
"Self-Operating Napkin" in the
Comic Strip Classics series of U.S.
postage stamps .
FILM AND TELEVISION
Advertisement (1916) Advertisement (1916)
Rube Goldberg wrote a feature film featuring his machines and
Soup to Nuts , which was released in 1930 and
Ted Healy and the pre-
Curly Howard version of The Three
In the 1962 John Wayne movie
Hatari! , an invention to catch monkeys
by character Pockets, played by
Red Buttons , is described as a "Rube
In the late 1960s and early 70s, educational shows like Sesame Street
Vision On and
The Electric Company
The Electric Company routinely showed bits that
Rube Goldberg devices, including the
Rube Goldberg Alphabet
Contraption, and the What Happens Next Machine.
Various other films and cartoons have included highly complicated
machines that perform simple tasks. Among these are Flåklypa Grand
Looney Tunes ,
Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry ,
Wallace and Gromit
Wallace and Gromit , Pee-wee\'s
Big Adventure ,
The Way Things Go ,
Edward Scissorhands , Back to the
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ,
The Goonies ,
Gremlins , the Saw
film series , Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ,
The Cat from Outer Space ,
Malcolm , Hotel For Dogs , the Home Alone film series ,
Family Guy ,
American Dad! , and Waiting...
Also in the Final Destination film series the characters often die in
Rube Goldberg-esque ways. In the film
The Great Mouse Detective , the
villain Ratigan attempts to kill the film's heroes, Basil of Baker
Street and David Q. Dawson, with a
Rube Goldberg style device. The
classic video in this genre was done by the artist duo Peter Fischli
Humongous Entertainment game Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the
Haunted Schoolhouse involves searching for the missing pieces to a
Rube Goldberg machine
Rube Goldberg machine to complete the game.
In 1909 Goldberg invented the "Foolish Questions" game based on his
successful cartoon by the same name. The game was published in many
versions from 1909 to 1934.
Rube Works: The Official
Rube Goldberg Invention Game , the first
game authorized by The Heirs of Rube Goldberg, was published by Unity
Games (the publishing arm of
Unity Technologies ) in November 2013.
Deathtrap (plot device)
Frederick Rowland Emett
Heath Robinson , British artist who drew "inventions" similar
to Rube Goldberg's
Jean Tinguely , Swiss artist who created Rube Goldberg–like
Storm P , a Danish contemporary artist who drew "inventions"
similar to Rube Goldberg's
* ^ A B C Goldberg, Reuben. "Members / In Memoriam / Rube Goldberg"
JPEG ). reuben.org. National Cartoonists Society. Retrieved August 5,
* ^ "The History of the NCS". reuben.org. National Cartoonists
* ^ A B Contemporary Authors: First revision, Volumes 5–8. Gale
Research Company. 1969. p. 448.
* ^ A B C D E F G Marzio, Peter C. (1973). Rube Goldberg: His Life
and Work. Harper and Row. ISBN 0060128305 .
* ^ Peterson, Alison J. (November 20, 2007). "George W. George, at
87; writer, producer of films and Broadway plays". New York Times News
Boston Globe . Retrieved January 28, 2015.
* ^ "The Art of Rube Goldberg". Jennifer George NYC. Retrieved
December 13, 2012.
* ^ George, Jennifer. "About". Rubegoldberg.com.
* ^ Peterson, Alison J. (November 20, 2007). "Obituaries – George
W. George, at 87; writer, producer of films and Broadway plays". The
Boston Globe. New York Times News Service. Retrieved November 28,
* ^ at Don Markstein\'s Toonopedia . Archived from the original on
July 30, 2016.
* ^ "Foolish Questions hi". The
San Francisco Call . December 2,
1910. p. 13.
* ^ "What Are You Kicking About". The
San Francisco Call . June 1,
1910. p. 13.
* ^ "Telephonies". The
San Francisco Call . July 12, 1911. p. 10.
* ^ Doc Wright at Don Markstein\'s Toonopedia . Archived 2016-04-04
WebCite from the original on April 4, 2016.
* ^ Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press. 1915
Vanity Fair The Goldbergian answer would be ‘No, I paint my nose and
eyes red every day to frighten the gypsy-moths away.' access-date=
requires url= (help )
* ^ Atkinson, J. Brooks (10 February 1928). "THE PLAY; "Rain or
Shine," Joe Cook". New York Times. p. 26. He then introduces the
Fuller Construction Orchestra, which is one of those Rube Goldberg
crazy mechanical elaborations for passing a modest musical impulse
from a buzz. access-date= requires url= (help )
* ^ "American Topics: 20 Classic Comic Strips Get (Postage) Stamp
of Approval". The New York Times. May 8, 1995. Retrieved August 5,
* ^ "Sesame Street: What Happens Next Machine". Youtube.com. August
6, 2010. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
* ^ "
Rube Goldberg alphabet contraption, Sesame Street".
Youtube.com. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
* ^ "
OK Go – This Too Shall Pass –
Rube Goldberg Machine
YouTube . March 1, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
* ^ Wolfe, Maynard Frank (2000).
Rube Goldberg Inventions. Simon &
Schuster. p. 25. ISBN 0-684-86724-9 .
* ^ "Rube-Goldberg Puzzler "Rube Works" Now Available for iPad and
Gamasutra . November 13, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
* Wolfe, Maynard Frank (2000). Rube Goldberg: Inventions. New York:
Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684867249 .