Rube Goldberg

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San Francisco, U.S.
Birth Sign
San Francisco, U.S.

Reuben Garrett Lucius popularly known as Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, author, engineer and sculptor. He got interested in sketching from a young age and aspired to pursue a career in the world of arts. However, he sought a degree in Engineering following his father’s recommendation. Rube Goldberg soon followed his passion and launched a career as a cartoonist, gaining a large fan base in the process. He was well-known for his political cartoons as well as satirical work about people’s obsession with technology at the time. Rube Goldberg’s cartoons were so popular that he received death threats for his political cartoons during World War II. Over the course of his career, he is thought to have created over 50,000 cartoons. Rube Goldberg was acclaimed as the ‘Dean of American Cartoonists’ throughout his lifetime. In 1948, he was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his cartoon ‘Peace Today,’ which highlighted the dangers of nuclear bombs.

Childhood and Adolescence

Rube Goldberg was born on 4 July 1883 in California, USA. His father, Max, was a police and fire commissioner in San Francisco, and his mother, Hannah, was a German Jewish immigrant.
He had six siblings, three of them died at a young age. Among the survivors were his older brother Garrett, younger brother Walter, and younger sister Lillian.

He was always interested in the arts, and by the age of eight, he had developed a strong enthusiasm for them. He started outlining sketches as a toddler and began taking drawing classes at the age of 11.

He completed his studies at Lowell High School in 1900. Later, he attended the School of Mining Engineering and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1904.

The Career of Rube

After graduating, he was hired as an engineer for the Water and Sewers Department. He had to design sewer pipes here. He left the position in six months and joined the newspaper San Francisco Chronicle as an art assistant.
The very next year he joined the San Francisco Bulletin as a sports cartoonist and held the position until 1907.

Here he had to produce illustrations of sports figures and his work was favorably received. In 1907, he developed the ‘Mike and Ike’ comic series, which featured identical twins. Despite the fact that it did not achieve immediate success, he persisted, and it finally became a tremendous hit with the audience.

In 1907, he relocated to New York and began freelancing for a few periodicals. He was employed as a cartoonist for the New York Evening Mail during this period. From 1908 to 1934, he published a single-panel comic called ‘Foolish Topics,’ which featured scathing solutions to apparent questions. He wrote and published a novel with the same title in 1909.

He used to perform on stage with other cartoonists and began working as a comic in Vaudeville in 1911. By 1914, he had also established himself as a playwright. The same year he started work on his second comic series project dubbed ‘Inventions!’ He began this at a time when the United States was witnessing the dawn of the Age of Inventions.

He was interested in technology, yet he noticed that people frequently use complicated methods to attain simple goals. This served as the inspiration for his main piece in ‘Inventions!,’ a picture of an ‘Automatic Weight-Reducing Machine.’ The renowned cartoon illustration went on to be known as the Rube Goldberg Machine.

While working with the New York Evening mail, his cartoons acquired a wider audience as the newspaper was syndicated to the primary newspaper syndicate in the USA dubbed the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. By 1915, he had established himself as one of America’s most well-known cartoonists.

He had offers from other well-known newspaper chains at this time, but the New York Evening Mail increased his income and founded the Evening Mail Syndicate to give his cartoons a national audience.

In 1915, he also embarked on a project to create cartoons for silent films. However, after learning the scope of the project and recognizing that it would be practically impossible to accomplish without assistance, he decided to abandon it.

The same year he created a cartoon character Boob McNutt. This comic was later distributed by Star Company, and it gained a large fan base. In 1934, he put a stop to the comic.

In 1934, he moved his attention from cartooning to magazine writing for a period of time. He returned to cartooning, though and worked as an editorial cartoonist for the political weekly New York Sun until 1964, when he retired. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for a political cartoon he created while working here on July 22, 1947.

Post-retirement, he became a sculptor. The National Cartoonists Society was created in 1946 by Rube Goldberg and other cartoonists. He also served as the inaugural president of the Society and kept the position for two years.

Rube’s Major Projects

His editorial cartoons, as well as other cartoons depicting complicated machines executing simple tasks, are his most well-known works. A couple of his most recognized cartoon series are ‘Foolish Questions’, ‘Inventions!’ and ‘Mike and Ike’.

Achievements & Awards

In 1948, he was won the Pulitzer Prize for his political cartoon ‘Peace Today’.
In 1955, he received the Gold T-Square Award for his artistic talents.

In 1959, he got the banshee’s Silver Lady Award, which celebrates fresh as well as a creative art.
In 1967, he received the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for Best Cartoonist of the Year, which he named after himself.

Personal History and Legacy

On 17 October 1916, Rube Goldberg married Irma Seeman. Thomas and George were the couple’s two children.
He died in 1970 at Hawthorne, New York. He was 87 years old at the time of his death.
His grandkids administer an organization named for him in commemoration of the Goldberg ancestry.

Estimated Net worth

Rube is one of the wealthiest cartoonists and one of the most popular. Rube Goldberg’s net worth is estimated to be $2 million.


He is the sole cartoonist featured in Merriam-Webster because the phrase “Rube Goldberg” was adopted as an adjective by the dictionary, meaning “doing something easy in a very sophisticated way that is not necessary.”

In 1995, the United States released a commemorative stamp honoring Reuben Goldberg, displaying his self-operating Napkin cartoon.
The ‘Reuben Goldberg’ themed devices have appeared in many popular feature films and television shows, including Looney Tunes, Sesame Street, Tom and Jerry, American Dad!, Family Guy, and the Home Alone film series, among others.