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Facts about Rube Goldberg's Life

Facts about Rube Goldberg's Life

Rube Goldberg was renowned for his out-of-the-box cartoons and inventions; this article will give you an insight of his life. It may come as a surprise for many, but Goldberg was much more than a cartoonist or an inventor which he is widely known as.
Abhijit Naik
Rube Goldberg, best known for his cartoons depicting complex machines doing simple tasks in out-of-the-box manner, was a cartoonist and inventor hailing from the United States of America. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, Goldberg was one of the founding members and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society - an organization of professional cartoonists in the United States. Very few people know that other than being a renowned cartoonist and inventor, Goldberg was also a sculptor, a qualified engineer and an eminent author. Even though, the man himself is not with us anymore, his ideas continue to inspire us.

Life and Times of Rube Goldberg

Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg aka 'Rube Goldberg' was born on 4th July, 1883, to a Jewish couple - Max and Hannah Goldberg, in California, United States. His father - Max Goldberg, was a police and fire commissioner of the city of San Francisco. Rube graduated with a College of Mining degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1904, after which he began working as an engineer for the Water and Sewers Department of the city of San Francisco. He realized that engineering was not his calling, and quit his job at the Water and Sewers Department to join 'San Francisco Chronicle' where he worked as a sports cartoonist. This was the beginning of Rube Goldberg - the cartoonist, who eventually became one of the most famous cartoonists in the world. Given below are more of such interesting facts about his life:
  • Rube Goldberg quit his job at the San Francisco Chronicle to take up a job at the San Francisco Bulletin wherein he worked till 1907.
  • In 1907, he moved to the city of New York wherein he drew cartoons for five different newspapers - including some big names like the New York Evening Mail and New York Evening Journal.
  • In his stint with editorial cartooning, which began in 1938, Goldberg worked as a political cartoonist for The New York Sun, The New York Journal and The Journal-American.
  • He produced several cartoon series - most popular among which were Mike and Ike, Boob McNutt, Lunatics I Have Met, They all Looked Good When They Are Far Away, Foolish Questions, etc., which brought him all the fame in the United States.
  • Rube Goldberg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the Best Editorial Cartoon for his cartoon 'Peace Today' - his satirical take on the development and use of atomic weapons.
  • Other that the Pulitzer Prize, Goldberg was also awarded the Gold T-Square Award (1955) and the Banshee's Silver Lady Award (1959) for his works.
  • As an author, Goldberg wrote two popular books - How to Remove the Cotton from a Bottle of Aspirin (1959) and Rube Goldberg vs. the Machine Age (1968).
  • He was the first cartoonist to have his work exhibited at the National Museum of American History in Washington in 1970.
  • A 'Rube Goldberg machine' refers to a device which is deliberately made in such a manner that it would do even the simplest of task in a complex way. In 1931, the Merriam-Webster dictionary adopted the term 'Rube Goldberg' as an adjective for accomplishing something simple by complex means; and that is no doubt the biggest honor that a person can get.
  • Goldberg died on 7th December, 1970, at the age of 87, and was cremated at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York.
As interesting as these facts about Goldberg's life may sound, there were some issues which he had to face in life. In 1916, Rube married Irma Seeman; and the couple had two sons whom they named Thomas and George. However, Goldberg was a bit skeptical to pass over his surname to his sons - especially with scores of hate mails pouring in from different parts of the country every day. His work had earned him fans as well as enemies, and he was afraid that the name Goldberg would land his sons in trouble and thus he asked them to opt for a new surname for themselves.

Rube Goldberg - who received several awards and accolades throughout his life, serves as an inspiration for numerous awards and competitions today. The Rube Award - given by the National Cartoonists Society to the cartoonist of the year, is quite famous in this field. Similarly, Rube Goldberg Machines Competitions, wherein the contestants are asked to create complex machines to perform simple tasks - something which Goldberg is best known for, are also organized in various parts of the world.