Rube Goldberg's Past Careers, Recognitions and Media Influences


Later on in life, Rube Goldberg also tried his hand on sculpture. In fact, his work as a sculptor was recognized through the Reuben Award, as was mentioned earlier. The cartoonist continued to show his style and penchant for well-detailed art. Fans would still recognize his work although a different media was used. However, his sculptures were not able to surpass his invention comic strips, at least not in terms of popularity, which basically made him one of the best ever and most recognized cartoonists.

Even critics and fellow cartoonists recognized his talents in the art of sculpting. So, his stint in making sculptures was not really a minor achievement, only maybe it was when compared to his own other works. After all, he was always dubbed as the man behind the invention machine comics or as a cartoonist and not often as simply Rube Goldberg, the sculptor.


Even after death, Rube Goldberg received additional awards that showed how much he was valued as a cartoonist. He received the Gold Key Award after his death as mentioned earlier. He was not forgotten by the people who enjoyed the cartoons that he had produced for most of his life. He deserved all the recognition that he could get.
A Career Highlight After Death

Why would posthumous recognition be considered a career highlight? Well, it is proof that his whole career had been and is still valued by his peers and his fans. He was a man who was considered to be one of the best cartoonists in his lifetime and even of other artists’ lifetimes. Cartoonists who followed his footsteps would do well to look at the completion of a career and celebrate it not only by trying to copy the same style but also to possibly improve on it. However, it would be difficult to surpass his ability to create invention comic strips because of his background as an engineer and the fact that he was able to create or invent his machines in all of 55 years. Do you think you can produce 55 years worth of Rube Goldberg-like inventions?

To Be Remembered Forever

Rube Goldberg was also posthumously commemorated through stamps in 1995. One of his most famous inventions, the Self-Operating Napkin, was included in the US postage stamps’ Comic Strip Classics. This was certainly a great way to recognize Goldberg’s work as a cartoonist through his lifetime – through a stamp that could be collected or use on mail that would be use to communicate a message. Goldberg was always happy to communicate his thoughts and opinions in his lifetime, even when he was just a newspaper boy with a route.


One of the greatest career highlights of Rube Goldberg is actually still going on today. Geeks and people who love discovering new stuff continue to copy the Rube Goldberg machines in their own way. In fact, there are even competitions that have been formed based on the concept of creating a machine that performs a simple task by way of going through a very complicated method. There are people who still attempt to create the biggest Rube Goldberg machine ever, for example. So, the late cartoonist-engineer lives on in the minds of not only cartoonists but also of scientists and inventors. Rube Goldberg was not able to build real models of his cartoon inventions but he had created logical setups that could be built in real life to produce the desired result. Of course, you might not always get a cooperative bird to complete your set for example unless you use a robotic one.


The term “Rube Goldberg” had also established a meaning. It has now become part of dictionaries, referring to simple tasks that can only be performed with the use of difficult or complex methods. The coining of such a phrase further added sheen to the illustrious career of a highly-talented man. The Webster Dictionary itself added “Rube Goldberg” to its pages.


Today, Rube Goldberg still has a strong following. This should come as no surprise because of the fact that he had been given several awards during his lifetime. He was also one of the most prolific and most diverse artists of all time, who had been recognized for his works as sculptor, wacky cartoonist, inventor and engineer. So, people who had become interested in him and his works are also pretty diverse today. Rube Goldberg would always be that man who had worked 55 years on invention cartoons. He never seemed to have run out of ideas. Now it looks like he would never run out of followers.


If you are not a cartoonist or an inventor yourself, you may have not have heard of Rube Goldberg although the man certainly had his share of career highlights to attract people’s attention. After all, he died more than forty years ago, in 1970. Still, you might have experienced and enjoyed some of his influences in today’s media. There are several films, mostly cartoons and fantasy flicks, which make use of complicatedly-built machines that accomplish simple tasks. Examples of such movies include The Goonies, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Back to the Future, Edward Scissorhands and even the horror series, Saw. Unnecessarily complicated machines could generate laughs or even suspense or awe. That was what prop designers have discovered through the years. You may want to read on the specific contraptions within some chosen films in the Influences on Media section.

If you are watching a film and see a machine that looks like its parts are too complicated to assemble but do not really deliver something out of the ordinary then you may be seeing a Rube Goldberg machine in action. There may be no birds, bees or even fat ladies in action but the machines fall under the Rube Goldberg category. Notice how these machines are usually included in films that have fantastical elements that aim to inspire awe or in films that want you to catch your breath because you are trying to understand what you are looking at. Rube Goldberg did have the capacity to inspire awe and to make people think as well as laugh.

Rube Goldberg may have already been dead when these films had been produced but he was still a strong presence in those. So, his media influences could still be considered to be under his posthumous career highlights.

You can read more about his influences on the different forms of media in the Legacy section.


By the looks of it, the career of Reuben Lucius Goldberg was a career of highlights. If we had to go with just one highlight then it would be his invention machines. There was not just one invention machine, either. In 55 years, Rube Goldberg continued to produce high quality comic strips involving his most famous character, Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts. The cartoonist-engineer’s career high was not just a one-time thing. He mostly had highs, except in the beginning when he had experienced rejection after rejection. Even his rejections could be considered a highlight not in the sense that they boosted Goldberg up but in the sense that they paved the way towards his later successes. An artist should also learn to accept failures and not just reap all the awards to be whole. So, despite all the awards and the recognition, he remained a humble and likable man. Even after his death, people who had known or had come to know his career’s works still continued to recognize him with awards, commemorative stamps, competitions under his name and inventions that were thought of with the Rube Goldberg way in mind. Rube Goldberg was really one of the best cartoonists to put in the spotlight.