Rube Goldberg - humorist and cartoonist

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and humourist whose zany illustrations of contraptions made him a household name during the 20s, especially in the United States.

Professor  Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin
Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin

His full name was Reuben Lucius Goldberg, and he was born in San Francisco in 1883, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for political cartooning. But he was best known for his bumbling characters and weird contraptions, enormously complicated devices that used everyday items such as teapots, goldfish bowls, alarm clocks and shoestrings to turn a dull chore such as boiling water into a cumbersome and hilarious extravaganza. His drawings were so popular that his name became common parlance for complexity. Getting a washing machine delivered, installed and working, I have found it is a Rube Goldberg. Or the most infernally complicated way to do a simple thing is what a rube goldberg is.

Painless Collar Button by Rube Goldberg
Painless Collar Button by Rube Goldberg

The Goldberg speciality was a one-panel drawing that showed in a dozen or so wacky steps how, for example, a sleeping father gave a crying baby its bottle without getting out of bed. It involved pulling a string to shoot off a gun, which switched on a stove, which warmed some milk and tipped over a pot, which spilled the milk into a can and activated a lever that pulled a string to bring a nursing nipple to the baby's mouth. Goldberg graduated from the University of California in 1904 and began his career that years as a cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle. Later he drew cartoons for the San Francisco Bulletin and The New York Evening Mail before becoming a syndicated cartoonist in 1921.

Bill Cartoon Panel by Rube Goldberg 1930
Bill Cartoon Panel by Rube Goldberg 1930

His books include "Soup to Nut," made into a movie; "Rube Goldberg's Guide to Europe," "How to Remove Cotton from a Bottle of Aspirin." "I Made My Bed" and "Rube Goldberg vs. the Machine Age," his last book that was published in 1968. He retired as a featured cartoonist in 1964 to devote his full time to sculpture. Goldberg took his later-years career as a sculptor seriously, although he feared that others wouldn't because of his association as a cartoonist.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like;

Rube Goldberg: Inventions

Buy on Amazon >

Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines Kindle Edition