Richard Halliburton

Richard Halliburton (January 9, 1900 – presumed dead after March 24, 1939) was an American travel writer, adventurer, and author who is best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal and paying the lowest toll in its history—36 cents in 1928.[1] His final and fatal adventure, an attempt to sail the Chinese junk Sea Dragon across the Pacific Ocean – from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, California – made him legendary.

Richard Halliburton
Richard Halliburton, ca. 1933
Richard Halliburton, ca. 1933
Born(1900-01-09)January 9, 1900
Brownsville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedMarch 24, 1939(1939-03-24) (aged 39)
Pacific Ocean
OccupationTravel writer, journalist, lecturer
SubjectTravel literature, Adventure, Exploration


Early life and educationEdit

Richard Halliburton was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, to Wesley Halliburton, a civil engineer and real estate speculator, and Nelle Nance Halliburton. A brother, Wesley Jr., was born in 1903. The family moved to Memphis, where the brothers, who were not close, spent their childhood. Richard attended Memphis University School, where his favorite subjects were geography and history; he also showed promise as a violinist, and was a fair golfer and tennis player. In 1915 he developed a rapid heartbeat and spent some four months in bed before its symptoms were relieved. This included some time at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, run by the eccentric and innovative John Harvey Kellogg, whose philosophy of care featured regular exercise, sound nutrition, and frequent enemas.[2] In 1917, family tragedy struck when, following an apparent bout of rheumatic fever, Richard's brother, thought strong and in fine health, suddenly died.[3]:8

At 5'7" (170 cm) and about 140 pounds (64 kg), Halliburton was never robust but would seldom complain of sickness or poor stamina.[4] He graduated from the Lawrenceville School in 1917, where he was chief editor of The Lawrence.[5] In 1921 he graduated from Princeton University, where he was on the editorial board of The Daily Princetonian and chief editor of The Princetonian Pictorial Magazine. He also attended courses in public speaking and considered a career as a lecturer.[6]


"An even tenor"Edit

Historical marker for Richard Halliburton in Brownsville, Tennessee

Leaving college temporarily during 1919, Halliburton became an ordinary seaman and boarded the freighter Octorara that July, bound from New Orleans to England.[3]:19–23 He toured historic places in London and Paris, but soon returned to Princeton in early 1920 to finish his schooling.[3]:55–57 His trip inspired in him a lust for even more travel. Voiced in different ways, seizing the day became his credo. The words of Oscar Wilde, who in works like The Picture of Dorian Gray enjoined experiencing the moment before it vanished, inspired Halliburton to reject marriage, family, a regular job, and conventional respectability as the obvious steps after graduation. He liked bachelorhood, youthful adventure, and the thrill of the unknown. To earn a living he intended to write about his adventures. He dedicated his first book to his Princeton roommates, "...whose sanity, consistency and respectability ... drove [him] to this book".[7]

Halliburton's father advised him to get the wanderlust out of his system, return to Memphis and adjust his life to "an even tenor":

"I hate that expression", Richard responded, expressing the view that distinguished his life-style, "and as far as I am able I intend to avoid that condition. When impulse and spontaneity fail to make my way uneven then I shall sit up nights inventing means of making my life as conglomerate and vivid as possible.... And when my time comes to die, I'll be able to die happy, for I will have done and seen and heard and experienced all the joy, pain and thrills—any emotion that any human ever had—and I'll be especially happy if I am spared a stupid, common death in bed."[8][3]:51

Lecturer and pioneer of adventure journalismEdit

While Halliburton was attending Princeton, Field and Stream magazine paid him $150 for an article (equivalent to $1,910 in 2019). This initial success encouraged him to choose travel writing as a career. His fortunes changed when a representative of the Feakins Agency heard him deliver a talk, and soon Halliburton was given bookings for lectures. Despite a high-pitched voice and occasional discomfort on the details, Halliburton displayed such enthusiasm and recounted such vivid recreations of his often bizarre foreign encounters that he became popular with audiences. On the strength of his lecturing and increasing celebrity appeal, publisher Bobbs-Merrill, whose editor-in-chief David Laurance Chambers was also a Princeton graduate, accepted Halliburton's first book, The Royal Road to Romance (1925).[9]

Halliburton's first book, published in 1925 by Bobbs-Merrill as The Royal Road to Romance, became a bestseller. Two years later he published The Glorious Adventure, which retraced Ulysses' adventures throughout the Classical Greek world as recounted in Homer's Odyssey, and which included his visiting the grave of English poet Rupert Brooke on the island of Skyros. In 1929, Halliburton published New Worlds To Conquer, which recounted his famous swim of the Panama Canal, his retracing the track of Hernán Cortés' conquest of Mexico, and his cast in the role, in full goat-skin costume, of Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk), "cast away" on the island of Tobago. Animals figure prominently in this and many other of Halliburton's adventures.

Ascent to fameEdit

Halliburton's friends during this time included movie stars, writers, musicians, painters, and politicians, including writers Gertrude Atherton and Kathleen Norris, Senator James Phelan and philanthropist Noël Sullivan, and actors Ramón Novarro and Rod La Rocque. Casual acquaintances were many, as lectures, personal appearances (notably to promote India Speaks), syndicated columns, and radio broadcasts made him a household name associated with romantic travel.[10]

Halliburton was acquainted with swashbuckling cinema star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., who was also a world traveler. Halliburton himself, though several times approached about film versions of his adventures (notably by Fox Film Corporation in 1933 for The Royal Road to Romance), only appeared in one movie, the Walter Futter-produced semi-documentary India Speaks (1932; re-released in 1947 as Bride of Buddha or Bride of the East).

Flying Carpet ExpeditionEdit

Halliburton (forward) and Moye Stephens (aft) shaking hands from Stearman C-3B Flying Carpet, NR882N

In 1930 Halliburton hired pioneer aviator Moye Stephens on the strength of a handshake for no pay, but unlimited expenses[11]—to fly him around the world in an open cockpit biplane. The modified Stearman C-3B was named the Flying Carpet after the magic carpet of fairy tales, subsequently the title of his 1932 best-seller. They embarked on "one of the most fantastic, extended air journeys ever recorded"[11] taking 18 months to circumnavigate the globe, covering 33,660 miles (54,100 km) and visiting 34 countries.

The pair started on Christmas Day 1930, making stops along the way, from Los Angeles to New York City,[12] where they crated the airplane and boarded it on the oceanliner RMS Majestic. They sailed to England, where their extended mission began. They flew to France, then Spain, the British possession of Gibraltar, and on to Africa at Fez, Morocco (where Stephens performed aerobatics for the first air meet held in that country). They crossed the Atlas mountains and set out across the Sahara to Timbuktu, using the fuel caches of the Shell Oil Company. While in Timbuktu, they were guests of Pere Yakouba, a French Augustinian monk who had years before fled from the distractions of modern society and become patriarch and a noted scholar of the community.[11] They flew to their destination without mishap, then continued eastward, spending several weeks in Algeria with the French Foreign Legion, and continuing via Cairo and Damascus, with a side trip to Petra.

Elly Beinhorn in Morocco, 1931

In Persia (now Iran) they met German aviator Elly Beinhorn, who was grounded by mechanical problems. They assisted her and then worked out shared itineraries. Later, Halliburton wrote a foreword to her book Flying Girl about these and other of her adventures in the air. Now exhausted, and their plane tiring, Stephens and Halliburton continued their eastward journey. In Persia, Crown Princess Mahin Banu had a ride in the airplane. In neighbouring Iraq, the young Crown Prince Ghazi had a ride; they flew him over his school yard.

In India, Halliburton visited the Taj Mahal, which he had first visited in 1922. In Nepal, as The Flying Carpet flew past Mt. Everest, Halliburton stood up in the open cockpit of the plane and took the first aerial photograph of the mountain. To the delight of an amazed Maharajah of Nepal, Stephens and Beinhorn performed daring aerobatics. In Borneo, Halliburton and Stephens were feted by Sylvia Brett, wife of the White Rajah of Sarawak. They gave her a ride, making Ranee Sylvia the first woman to fly in that country. At the Rajang River, they took the chief of the Dyak head hunters for a flight: he gave them 60 kilos of shrunken heads, which they dared not refuse but dumped as soon as possible.[11] They were the first Americans to fly to the Philippines: after arriving in Manila on April 27,[13] the plane was again loaded onto a ship (SS President McKinley) to cross the ocean.[14] They flew the final leg from San Francisco to Los Angeles.[12] A fictionalized account of his travels in India and Asia was depicted in the 1933 film India Speaks.

Moye Stephens was a skilled pilot. Halliburton, in a reassuring letter to his parents (January 23, 1932), recited his many flight skills. Stephens, for instance, during one aerobatic display, astutely aborted a slow roll the moment he realized that Halliburton had not fastened his seat belt.[11] Stephens later became chief test pilot of the Northrop Flying Wing, which evolved into today's B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The around-the-world trip had cost Halliburton over $50,000, plus fuel; in the first year, the book he entitled The Flying Carpet (after his valiant plane) earned him royalties of $100,000, in those depression-era days a remarkably large sum.[15] Barbara H. Schultz's Flying Carpets, Flying Wings – The Biography of Moye Stephens (2011), besides recounting the Flying Carpet Expedition from a flier's viewpoint as well as documenting Stephens' (1906–1995) contributions to aviation history, contains Stephens' extended reports of the adventure. With rare glimpses into the travel writer's art, these give historic balance to Halliburton's often romanticized renditions.

Commissioned research travel and feature article writingEdit

Early in 1934 the Bell Syndicate Newspapers contracted with newspapers throughout the United States, beginning with the Boston Globe, to publish weekly feature stories prepared by Halliburton. Of about one thousand words each with pictures, ultimately fifty stories resulted. Among these were stories on the Seri Indians of Southern California; Fort Jefferson, where Dr. Samuel Mudd, convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, was imprisoned; Admiral Richmond Pearson Hobson, who deliberately sank his own ship during the Spanish–American War, and the Battle of Santiago de Cuba a month later; Henri Christophe and the Citadelle Laferrière in Haiti; Christopher Columbus, Lord Byron, and "The Girl from Martinique Who Wrecked Napoleon". Paid well, Halliburton traveled extensively to fulfill his end of the deal: to Cuba, Haiti, Martinique, to Miami, Washington, D. C. (to do research at the Library of Congress), to New York, to Europe, and ultimately to Russia.

At the height of his popularity and self-fulfillment, he appeared on radio, attended celebrity parties (including one at the home of novelist Kathleen Norris who, like Halliburton, had stories regularly featured in the newspapers), and, after the purchase of a used Ford roadster, explored the heartland of California and the beauties of the Lake Tahoe area. Other commissions followed: United Artists, producing a movie about Benvenuto Cellini, asked him to do a story on the Renaissance artist's love life. The lectures continued. Halliburton even turned down "job" offers, one of which was for the considerable sum of $500 a week, for 26 weeks, from a radio company "to speak on a beer program". Meanwhile, besides the Memphis Commercial Appeal, newspapers in Milwaukee, Kansas City, Columbus, and Toronto published his syndicated stories.

At the end of the year, he was again in Europe to commence his dream of emulating Hannibal and crossing the Alps on an elephant, one chosen for the task from a Paris zoo and given the name "Miss Dalrymple." The following year Bobbs-Merrill published Halliburton's Seven League Boots, filled with his latest adventures and arguably the last of the great travel works of the classic period.[16]

Hangover House in Laguna Beach, CaliforniaEdit

Hangover House (2016); the word "HANGOVER" (in mirror writing) is stamped into the concrete retaining wall

In 1937 William Alexander Levy designed a house for Halliburton in Laguna Beach, California, which is now known as "a landmark of modern architecture."[17] Alexander was a novice architect, a recent graduate of the New York University School of Architecture and close friend of Paul Mooney. Mooney managed the construction of the house. The house, built of concrete and steel and fortress-like in appearance, contained a spacious living room, a spacious dining room and three bedrooms: one for Halliburton, which featured a wall-sized map of the world; one for Mooney; and one for Levy. Because of its position, perched 400 feet (120m) above a sheer canyon, it was called "Hangover House" by Mooney, and this title was cast into a retaining wall on the site. Writer Ayn Rand, who visited the house in 1937 when she was still an unknown writer, is believed to have based the "Heller House" in The Fountainhead (1943) upon Halliburton's home.[18]

Sea Dragon expedition and disappearanceEdit

Halliburton and Mooney sailed to Hong Kong in September 1938 aboard SS President Coolidge,[19] en route to their final voyage, to sail a Chinese junk across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to San Francisco. The junk, named Sea Dragon (Chinese: 海龍; pinyin: Hǎi Lóng),[20] was a gaudily decorated 75-foot (23 m) junk, built to his commission in the shipyards of Kowloon by cartwright Fat Kau. Emblazoned with a colorful dragon and equipped with a diesel engine, the Sea Dragon was intended to make its maiden voyage to the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) in San Francisco (at Treasure Island), where it would dock, become part of the exhibition and take fairgoers on sailing cruises of San Francisco Bay.[21]

According to Halliburton's first cousin, who he visited in 1938, the trip was intended to rekindle interest in Halliburton and his writings.[22] Other biographers credit the idea for the voyage to Walter Gaines Swanson, the public relations manager for GGIE and the new San Francisco Bay bridges it was intended to celebrate.[19] Halliburton had little practical navigation experience, so he hired Captain John Wenlock Welch as skipper and Henry Von Fehren as engineer, as detailed in a letter to his subscribers, dated November 20, 1938. He selected the junk based on childhood experiences with a scale model.[23] The crew also included George Barstow III, a 21-year-old student at Juilliard, Velman Fitch of Minnesota, a world traveler who had been given a ride aboard the Sea Dragon, and Dartmouth College senior Robert Chase. Mooney was also aboard for the journey.

At first, Halliburton attempted to purchase a suitable junk in Xiamen, but later contracted the Kowloon shipbuilder.[19][23] Construction of the junk was marked by cost overruns, delays, and engineering errors, prompting Halliburton to write, "If any one of my readers wishes to be driven rapidly and violently insane, and doesn't know how to go about it, let me make a suggestion: Try building a Chinese junk in a Chinese shipyard during a war with Japan."[21] Corporate sponsors pulled out even as the ship came together; merchants in Chinatown suggested he use a floating casino and Buick refused to be associated with "junk".[19][24] The ship's construction was partially crowdfunded; the first 2,000 people to pay $1 would be granted admittance to a planned reception for Halliburton at Sacramento in March 1939.[25] In the end, much of the financing for the trip came from Halliburton's wealthy relatives, including the wife of his cousin Erle Halliburton;[19] $14,000 of the $26,500 raised came from the three crewmembers from Dartmouth: Chase, John "Brue" Potter, and Gordon Torrey, all with extensive sailing experience.[26]

A trial run in January 1939 revealed its flaws; the completed Sea Dragon proved to be top heavy yet low-riding and developed alarming rolls in moderate seas.[19] According to Halliburton's subscriber correspondence dated January 27, however, the dry decks proved the ship's sea-worthiness.[23] 10 short tons (9.1 t) of concrete ballast were added to improve stability after the shakedown cruise. Bill Alexander pointed out the heavy diesel engine was out of place in the sailing ship. Chief Collins of the SS President Coolidge noted the masts and sails appeared overly heavy, and the poop deck was approximately 10 feet (3.0 m) higher than a typical junk of its size to accommodate a radio cabin and galley.[22] The first attempted voyage in February was forced to turn back on February 14 after a week at sea, due to an illness among the crew.[23][27] Potter and Torrey both left the ship after the junk's unsuccessful first voyage and later offered accounts of their experience.[28] The aborted February attempt was caused by an injury to Potter, which he sustained when he was struck by the mainsail boom while handling the 18-foot (5.5 m)-long tiller.[22] Gerry Max speculated that Potter and Torrey may have contracted gonorrhea during their time in Hong Kong.[26] During the same unsuccessful first voyage, Mooney broke an ankle after falling down a ladder.[19] Halliburton sent four letters to subscribers from Hong Kong between November 20, 1938 and February 16, 1939; the fifth, he promised, would be sent from Midway Island en route to San Francisco.[23]

Sea Dragon, March 23rd. Collins, President Coolidge. Southerly gales. Squalls. Lee rail under water. Hardtack. Bully beef. Wet bunks. Having wonderful time. Wish you were here instead of me.

 — Welch, master (March 24, 1939)[29]

Undaunted, the expedition set out once again on March 4, 1939,[19] and three weeks out to sea, on March 23, the ship encountered a typhoon. The Sea Dragon was approximately 1,200 miles (1,900 km) west of Midway, where it was due to call on April 3.[30] Evidently closest in vicinity to the junk, perhaps 640 kilometres (400 mi) away, was the liner President Coolidge, itself battling mountainous seas some 1,900 kilometres (1,200 mi) west of Midway Island. The US liner received a cheerful radio message from the junk skipper minutes later, "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here instead of me." As noted by the Coolidge at the time, waves were estimated at 40 feet (12 m) high.[29] The next message was different: "Southerly gale. Heavy Rain Squalls. High sea. Barometer 29.46. True course 100. Speed 5.5 knots. Position 1200 GCT 31.10 north 155.00 east. All well. When closer may we avail ourselves of your direction finder. Regards Welch." That was the last message heard from the junk.

The earliest inklings of trouble began in late March, as Halliburton had been in daily contact with radio stations and trans-Pacific ocean liners until then.[31][32] At first the Coast Guard at Hawaii delayed searching for the missing ship, possibly thinking Halliburton staged his disappearance as a publicity stunt.[21] After Sea Dragon was overdue to call at Midway by a week, on April 10, friends petitioned the Coast Guard to send a search vessel.[33] A Yugoslavian freighter, SS Recina, was the first to arrive at the last reported position of Sea Dragon, on April 16.[34] Later in May, an extensive US Navy search with several ships and scout planes, including USS Astoria, scouring 152,000 square miles (390,000 km2) over the course of many days, found no trace of the junk or the crew, and the effort was ended.[35][36][37][38] Halliburton's mother abandoned hope that he would be found alive by June.[39] As with Amelia Earhart, many rumors and reports of Halliburton's fate continued to arise over the years, with fans hoping he might yet turn up alive.[21]

The ocean liner SS President Pierce passed flotsam in the middle of the Pacific, covered with an estimated one year-old growth of barnacles in 1940 and believed to be from the wreck of the Sea Dragon,[40] perhaps the ship's rudder.[41] In 1945 a 30-foot skeleton of a 150-foot boat of oriental design washed ashore in San Diego California. It was suggested that this was the remains of the Sea Dragon. However, World War II overshadowed the news.[42]

Richard Halliburton's monument

Missing at sea since March 1939, Halliburton was declared dead on October 5, 1939 by the Memphis Chancery Court.[43] His empty grave is at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis at the Halliburton family gravesite. His ghost is reputed to haunt his final residence, Hangover House, completed in 1938 by architect William Alexander Levy in Laguna Beach.[44]

Personal lifeEdit

Halliburton never married. While young he dated several young women and, as revealed in letters to them, was infatuated with at least two of them. As an adult, his companions were chiefly male. Among those romantically linked to him were film star Ramón Novarro and philanthropist Noël Sullivan, both of whom enjoyed, as Halliburton, a bohemian lifestyle.[45][46] Halliburton's most enduring relationship was with freelance journalist Paul Mooney, with whom he often shared living quarters and who assisted him with his written work.[47] French police reports, dated 1935, noted the famed traveler's homosexual activity when in Paris at about the time of his planned crossing by elephant over the Alps: "Mr Halliburton is a homosexual well known in some specialized establishments. He is in the habit of soliciting on Saint-Lazare Street"[48] (near the station of the same name).

Private writingEdit

Halliburton admired English poet Rupert Brooke (1887–1915), whose beauty and patriotic verse captivated a generation. Halliburton intended to write his biography and kept ample notes for the task, interviewing in person or corresponding with prominent British literary and salon figures who had known Brooke, including Lady Violet Asquith Bonham-Carter, Walter de la Mare, Cathleen Nesbitt, Noel Olivier, Alec Waugh, and Virginia Woolf. Halliburton never began the book, but his notes were used by Arthur Springer to write Red Wine of Youth—A Biography of Rupert Brooke (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1952).[49]

A vigorous correspondent, Halliburton wrote numerous letters to fans, friends, editors, sponsors, and literary acquaintances. To his parents alone, he wrote well over a thousand letters; a large selection of these, edited in part by his father Wesley, was published in 1940 by Bobbs-Merrill as Richard Halliburton: His Story of His Life's Adventure As Told to His Mother and Father.

Character of published workEdit

In his colorful and simply-told travel adventures Halliburton was the "innocent abroad", receptive to new ideas and with a quiet erudition. He displayed a romantic readiness which shone through his best prose, prose at once picturesque, gently informative, extroverted (though self-enlisted), and personally confiding. He often described his attaching himself to a famous historic person (and key event for which that person was known) or to a revered place, such as the Taj Mahal. Acting as sort of an emcee, or performing some often cleverly garish stunt, he recalled that person and invoked a place associated with him; by so doing, he escorted readers into a different time and to a different locale, with of course some compelling modern touches. Thus he duplicated Hannibal's crossing of the Alps by elephant – naming the pachyderm he had gotten from a Paris zoo Miss Elysabethe Dalrymple; he emulated Ulysses' myriad adventures in the Mediterranean dressed often as a beach-comber or playboy; he re-enacted Robinson Crusoe's island solitude, adopting a menagerie of domestic pets with names such as Listerine, Kitty and Susie. Examples of the device filled his work and helped define his public image: of further note, he retraced the fateful expedition of Hernando Cortez to the heart of the Aztec Empire; like his hero Lord Byron, he swam the Hellespont, metaphorically bridging Europe and Asia; and he lived among the French Foreign Legion in North Africa. He did not just view legendary places and landscapes, but often embraced them by some athletic feat ultimately intended to thrill armchair travelers as well as to educate them: he swam the Panama Canal, climbed the Matterhorn and Mt. Fuji (its first documented winter ascent), and twice he descended into the Mayan Well of Death, the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza. The occasional trouble that he received from authorities only contributed to the drama of his adventures: taking photos of the guns at Gibraltar (and being arrested for it as a breach of security); attempting to enter Mecca, which is forbidden to non-Muslims; hiding from gatekeepers on the grounds of the Taj Mahal, to experience in solitude the sunset as well as to swim in the pool facing the tomb under the moonlight.

Halliburton's books were meant for the general reading public. What racial comments Halliburton made, though casual and for his time not unique to him, are unsettling today. Describing a hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains at age twenty, for instance, he commented that his two Indian guides were "as irresponsible as our southern niggers." [50]

Halliburton's love of the world's natural wonders, and such monuments of mankind which seemed best to blend into those wonders, derives in part from the Romanticism of poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (acquaintance with whom may have been sharpened by his exposure at Princeton to English Professor Henry Van Dyke, a popular essayist and poet of his time, who also had been a teacher of Halliburton's editor David Laurance Chambers). As theirs, Halliburton's view of technology was dim, and he gently urged that one see the world's marvels before "modern Progress" obliterated them.[51]

Halliburton was a cultural relativist: he adhered to the credibility of multiple perspectives and believed that "culture was king", stances which may explain his claim of purchasing a slave child in Africa – which did not happen, according to Moye Stephens – or adopting the garb of a particular region to "go native." As a sort of cultural ambassador, he met heads of state from Peruvian dictator Augusto Leguia, to Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, to the Last Emperor of China, to King Feisal al Husain of Iraq and his son the Crown Prince.[52]

An early letter (1923) expressed his "virulent antipathy for democracy as practiced in America" and a hatred "for the laboring class", but these views contrast with the plight he shared with the downtrodden, as at Devil's Island, and his occasional working with rough-hewn seamen. His last writings, done in collaboration with journalist Paul Mooney, the four letters (of a projected seven) comprising Letters from the Sea Dragon as well as the fifteen articles comprising The Log of the Sea Dragon--in their descriptions of the displacement of peoples engendered by the Japanese advance, suggest the war-reportorial course his writing might have taken had he lived. A news correspondent's role is also suggested by his skilled interview with the executioner of the Romanovs, the last ruling dynasty of Russia.[53] Distinguished by their readerliness, the essays of historic personages appearing in both his books and newspaper articles, notably of Spanish–American War hero Captain Richard Hobson and of Haitian leader Henri Christophe, show the skills of the natural biographer, and offer further hint of career evolution.


Publisher James O'Reilly, who reissued The Royal Road to Romance to celebrate the centenary of Halliburton's birth, characterizes him thus: "From the Jazz Age through the Great Depression to the eve of World War II, he thrilled an entire generation of readers." He was "clever, resourceful, undaunted, cheerful in the face of dreadful odds, ever-optimistic about the world and the people around him, always scheming about his next adventure."[54] He notes that Halliburton's "manhood spanned the brief interval between the two World Wars" and acclaims him as a "spokesman for the youth of a generation."[54]

Halliburton wanted to be remembered as the most-traveled man who had ever lived. In his day he had few rivals, though Eugene Wright (The Great Horn Spoon) and Martin and Osa Johnson (Safari) could as equally captivate.

Halliburton influenced his contemporaries Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Corey Ford and Ernest Hemingway. Writers Paul Theroux, Jim Harrison and Susan Sontag, among others, have offered debts of gratitude for his influence on their work. Television news celebrity and author Walter Cronkite, who heard him lecture in the mid-1930s, credited Halliburton with steering him into a career in journalism.[55] As the writer of a succession of bestsellers, and as a popular lecturer, Halliburton figured prominently in educating several generations of young Americans in the rudiments of geography, history and culture, especially through his two Books of Marvels,[56] re-issued in one volume after his death.

Halliburton Tower, Rhodes College (2009)

Two structures commemorate Halliburton: Hangover House in Laguna Beach, California, and the Memorial Tower at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Architecture historian and writer Ted Wells considers Hangover House, which Halliburton commissioned, one of the "best modern houses in the United States".[57] Nearly a quarter century after Halliburton's disappearance, his father donated $400,000 to build an imposing bell tower. It was dedicated in 1962 as the Richard Halliburton Memorial Tower, and the elder man died the following year at age 95.

In his Second Book of Marvels, Halliburton stated, "Astronomers say that the Great Wall is the only man-made thing on our planet visible to the human eye from the moon." Although untrue, this statement was a possible source for the urban legend that the Great Wall of China could be seen from space.[58]

The Richard Halliburton Papers are held at Princeton University Library[59] and the Richard Halliburton Collection at Paul Barret, Jr. Library at Rhodes College.[60]

Several books have been published about Halliburton. A 2009 book, Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Newsgathering Abroad, has a section devoted to Halliburton and travel writers like him. American Daredevil: The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World's First Celebrity Travel Writer was published in 2016.

The World War II Liberty Ship SS Richard Halliburton was named in his honor.


  • — (1925). The Royal Road to Romance. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  • — (1927). The Glorious Adventure. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • Following the path of Ulysses around the Mediterranean
  • — (1929). New Worlds to Conquer. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • Covering Central and South America, including the Panama Canal, the Mayan Well of Death, and Devil's Island
  • — (1932). The Flying Carpet. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • See above
  • — (1935). Seven League Boots. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • Covering Ethiopia, Russia, Arabia, the Alps
  • — (1937). Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels: the Occident. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • Originally titled Marvels of the West
  • — (1938). Richard Halliburton's Second Book of Marvels: the Orient. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  • — (1940). Richard Halliburton: His Story of His Life's Adventure, as Told in Letters to His Mother and Father. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  • — (1941). Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  • — (1947). The Royal Adventures of Richard Halliburton. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
    • Republication of The Royal Road to Romance (1925), The Glorious Adventure (1927), and New Worlds to Conquer (1929) in a single volume
As contributor
  • India Speaks with Richard Halliburton, Grosset & Dunlap-Publishers, New York, 1933
    • "Richard Halliburton, who in the photoplay India Speaks, plays the part of a young American traveling in India and Tibet in search of adventure. The photographs that follow are stills selected from the film taken by several different cameramen sent to Asia for the purpose-film which supplies the authentic background for the photoplay."[61]
  • One Hundred Years of Delightful Indigestion – Memphis Priceless and Treasured Receipts, Introduction by Richard Halliburton, World Traveler, Author and Epicure (Memphis: James Lee Memorial Academy of Arts, 1935)

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Panama Canal Authority FAQ
  2. ^ Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living- By Brian C. Wilson, Sept 18, 2014 - Indiana University Press
  3. ^ a b c d — (1940). Richard Halliburton: His Story of His Life's Adventure, as Told in Letters to His Mother and Father. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
  4. ^ Jonathan Root, Richard Halliburton – The Magnificent Myth, p. 39 et seq.
  5. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI". The Lawrenceville School. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Jonathan Root, Richard Halliburton – The Magnificent Myth, p. 44 et seq. The first in a series of syndicated columns Richard Halliburton wrote for newspapers across the country carried an editorial biography of the travel writer. See, for instance, The Sunday Magazine, Milwaukee Journal, September 2, 1934
  7. ^ Halliburton, Richard (1925). The Royal Road to Romance. The Bobbs-Merrill Company. p. Dedication. ISBN 9781885211538.
  8. ^ Guy Townsend (August 1977). "Richard Halliburton: The Forgotten Myth". Memphis Magazine. Archived from the original on 13 February 2002. Retrieved 3 November 2007. Reprinted Memphis Magazine, April 2001
  9. ^ Cf. Jonathan Root, Halliburton – The Magnificent Myth, op. cit., pp. 100–105
  10. ^ For Mallory and other names mentioned see Index in Gerry Max, Horizon Chasers – The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney. McFarland and Company, 2007
  11. ^ a b c d e "Moye W. Stephens, Richard Halliburton and the Flying Carpet". Reprinted in part from Tarpa Topics (The Retired Trans World Airlines Pilot's Magazine), April 1996. Accessed online January 2, 2008
  12. ^ a b Carash, Sherman (June 23, 1932). "Contact". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Richard Halliburton Arrives in Manila". Oakland Tribune. AP. April 27, 1932. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Borneo Head Hunters Ask If Airship Can Lay Eggs". San Bernardino Sun. Associated Press. May 3, 1932. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  15. ^ See Ronald Gilliam, "Around the World in the Flying Carpet." Aviation History, vol. 14, issue 5 (May 2004), pp. 22–60. Earlier recounted in Richard Halliburton, The Flying Carpet (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1932), with itinerary maps. Retold in Jonathan Root, Richard Halliburton – The Magnificent Myth, pp. 169–205. Cf. Gerry Max, Horizon Chasers, pp. 77–91. On the preface to the Elly Beinhorn book issued by Halliburton's own British publisher Goeffrey Bles see Richard Halliburton – His Story of His Life's Adventure As Told in Letters to His Mother and Father (Bobbs-Merrill, 1940), p. 352
  16. ^ See Richard Halliburton – His Story of His Life's Adventure As Told in Letters to His Mother and Father (Bobbs-Merrill, 1940), pp. 349–355, quoted p. 350. "Commissioned travel and writing" submitted by Gerry Max
  17. ^ Denzer, Anthony (Fall 2009). "The Halliburton House and its Architect, William Alexander". Southern California Quarterly. 91 (3): 319–341. doi:10.2307/41172482. JSTOR 41172482.
  18. ^ Wells, Ted. "Hangover House: An Obscure Modern Masterpiece." Ted Wells' Living Simple: Architecture, Design, and Living, 7 March 2007: [1] Also see Gerry Max, "House in Flight", in Horizon Chasers, op. cit, pp. 139–171
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Heaver, Stuart (2014). "Richard Halliburton: the hero time forgot". Post Magazine. South China Morning Post. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  20. ^ The four characters on the stern are read from right to left as 香港海龍, which state the port (Hong Kong) along with the name of the ship. Refer to contemporary photographs such as the one posted to Skemer, Don (March 17, 2014). "A New View of Richard Halliburton's Sea Dragon". Princeton University Library Manuscripts News [blog]. Princeton University. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d Daugherty, Greg (March 24, 2014). "The Last Adventure of Richard Halliburton, the Forgotten Hero of 1930s America". Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  22. ^ a b c Taylor, William R. (April 13, 2016). "A Beautiful Casket – the Sea Dragon". Richard Halliburton biography – BOLD adventurer, globe trotter [blog]. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d e "Archive for four TLS letters from Richard Halliburton's Chinese junk The Sea Dragon". Tavistock Books. 1938–1939. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  24. ^ Bersnstein, Mark F. (March 20, 2019). "What Would Halliburton Do?". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Writer's Cachets Reach High Mark". The Express. Sacramento, California. November 30, 1938. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  26. ^ a b Zug, James (July–August 2014). "Sea of Dreams". Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Halliburton Turns Back Due to Illness". San Bernardino Sun. February 15, 1939. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  28. ^ Doremus, John (host) (10 September 2007). Evening with Ian Holland – 2045 AEST, (Radio 2CH). The Passing Parade.
  29. ^ a b "Junk Foundered in Gale, Belief". San Pedro News-Pilot. June 1, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Hopes Author Alive Fading". San Bernardino Sun. United Press. April 25, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  31. ^ "Halliburton's Radio Silent Four Days". San Bernardino Sun. United Press. March 29, 1939. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  32. ^ "Last Minute News Bulletins: Fear for Adventurer". Madera Tribune. March 30, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  33. ^ "Friends Call on Coast Guard to Hunt Halliburton". Santa Cruz Evening News. UP. April 11, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  34. ^ "No Trace Found of Halliburton's Junk". San Bernardino Sun. United Press. April 17, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  35. ^ "U.S.S. Astoria to Search for Halliburton on Voyage Home". San Pedro News-Pilot. AP. May 16, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  36. ^ "Search Near End for Halliburton". San Pedro News-Pilot. AP. May 31, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Seaplanes Search in Vain for Author". San Bernardino Sun. June 1, 1939. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Search for Author Lacking in Results". San Bernardino Sun. Associated Press. June 11, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  39. ^ Smith, Brooks (June 22, 1939). "Halliburton Saga Replete with Feats". Santa Cruz Evening News. United Press. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  40. ^ Christian, Sutton (July 24, 1940). "Judge and Mrs. Harry J. Bias Return from Trip to Orient". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  41. ^ "Clue Thought Found to Halliburton Boat". San Bernardino Sun. United Press. July 7, 1940. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  42. ^ Maitland, Jules (10 February 1945). "Believe San Diego Shipwreck May Be Halliburton Boat". Berkeley Daily Gazette.
  43. ^ "Halliburton Held Legally Dead". San Pedro News-Pilot. AP. October 5, 1939. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  44. ^ McClure, Hal (January 20, 1957). "'Hangover House' Holds Dreams of Halliburton". Santa Cruz Sentinel. AP. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  45. ^ Allan R. Ellenberger, Ramón Novarro: A Biography of the Silent Film Idol, 1899–1968, McFarland and Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7864-0099-4. p. 141
  46. ^ André Soares, Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramón Novarro, St. Martin's Press, 2002. ISBN 0-312-28231-1. p.163. See also Gerry Max, Horizon Chasers – The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney, op. cit., p. 3 et passim
  47. ^ For recent views, and approaches, see Charles E. Morris III, "Richard Halliburton's Bearded Tales", Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 95, No. 2, May, 2009, pp. 123-147 regarding Halliburton's "sexual provenance" as well as "closet eloquence, or rhetorical repertories of sexual passing in U. S. history."
  48. ^ Archives of the Paris Police Prefecture, report n°69000.245 from the Vice Squad (Brigade Mondaine), quoted by François Buot, Gay Paris. Une histoire du Paris interlope entre 1900 et 1942, Fayard 2013. ISBN 978-2-213-65418-8 p.282 : "Mr Halliburton est un homosexuel très connu dans certains établissements spécialisés. Il a pris l'habitude de racoler rue Saint-Lazare."
  49. ^ Richard Halliburton Papers: Correspondence Archived 2005-04-15 at the Wayback Machine, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. Accessed online 2 January 2008. Gerry Max, Horizon Chasers, p. 12 et passim. Also Jonathan Root, Halliburton--The Magnificent Myth, p. 70 et passim
  50. ^ See Richard Halliburton, His Story of His Life's Adventures (Bobbs-Merrill,1940), Letter, July 20, 1920, p. 59. See also Jonathan Root, Halliburton – The Magnificent Myth, p. 55. "Character of Published Work" provided by Gerry Max.
  51. ^ See Richard Halliburton, The Book of Marvels – The Occident (Bobbs-Merrill, c1937), pp. 154–155.
  52. ^ Comments submitted by Gerry Max.
  53. ^ Gerry Max, Horizon Chasers, p. 7 et seq. The claims of the man Halliburton interviewed, Peter Zacharovitch Ermakov, have been discredited. See John Maxwell Hamilton, Journalism's Roving Eye – A History of American Foreign Reporting (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2009), p. 259. For an additional view about Halliburton's racial attitudes, see p. 257; about his sexuality, see pp. 257–258. For Halliburton's early view on democracy, see letter and comment, in James Cortese, Richard Halliburton's Royal Road(White Rose Press, Memphis, c1989), pp. 94–95
  54. ^ a b Quoted by James O'Reilly in his introduction to the 2000 reprint of Royal Road to Romance
  55. ^ For Walter Cronkite see his A Reporter's Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), pp. 34-35.
  56. ^ See, for instance, Gerry Max, "Richard Halliburton and Thomas Wolfe: When Youth Kept Open House", North Carolina Literary Review no. 5 (1996), 82–93. Also see Horizon Chasers, p. 5, also 7 et seq. For Eugene Wright, see p. 262n21
  57. ^ Wells, Ted. "Hangover House: An Obscure Modern Masterpiece." Ted Wells' Living Simple: Architecture, Design, and Living, 7 March 2007: [2]
  58. ^ Great Walls of Liar, Accessed 2 January 2008
  59. ^ Richard Halliburton Papers Archived 2005-04-15 at the Wayback Machine, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. Accessed online 2 January 2008
  60. ^ Archives & Special Collections Archived 2010-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, Rhodes College (Memphis, Tennessee). Accessed online 2 January 2008
  61. ^ India Speaks with Richard Halliburton, Grosset & Dunlap-Publishers, New York, 1933

Further readingEdit

  • Alt, John H. Don't Die in Bed: The Brief, Intense Life of Richard Halliburton. Atlanta: Quincunx Press, 2013
  • Austen, Roger. "Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America"
  • Cortese, James. Richard Halliburton's Royal Road. Memphis: White Rose Press, 1989
  • Gilliam, Ronald, "Richard Halliburton and Moye Stephens: Traveling Around the World in the Flying Carpet",Aviation History (date unclear)
  • Max, Gerry. Horizon Chasers: The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2007
  • Max, Gerry. "The Royal Road To Romance in the USA: Thomas Wolfe, Richard Halliburton, Eco-Tourism and Eco-Poetry," Thomas Wolfe Review, Volume 38, Nos. 1 & 2, 2014, pp. 80–94.
  • Morris, Charles E. (III), "Richard Halliburton's Bearded Tales", Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 95, No. 2, May, 2009, pp. 123–147.
  • Root, Jonathan. Halliburton—The Magnificent Myth. New York:Coward-McCann, 1965.
  • Schultz, Barbara H., Flying Carpets, Flying Wings – The Biography of Moye Stephens (Plane Mercantile, c2011).
  • Schwartz, David M. "On the Royal Road to Adventures with 'Daring Dick.'" Smithsonian Magazine 19.12, 1 March 1989, pp. 159–160, 162–164, 166, 168, 170, 172, 174–178
  • Taylor, William R., A Shooting Star Meets the Well of Death, Why and How Richard Halliburton Conquered the World, Abbeville, SC: Moonshine Cove Publishing, 2013, ISBN 1937327353.
  • Townsend, Guy, "Richard Halliburton: The Forgotten Myth" at the Wayback Machine (archived February 13, 2002), Memphis Magazine, originally published August 1977, reprinted April 2001
  • "Fair-Haired Carpeteer". Time. 1932-11-14. Retrieved 5 August 2008., a 1932 Time magazine review of The Flying Carpet
  • Wilde, Winston, Legacies of Love: A Heritage of Queer Bonding (Haworth Press)

External linksEdit