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World's First Travel Writer and Most Popular Non-Fiction Writer

Updated on September 10, 2020
Halliburton's Swim of Panama Canal
Halliburton's Swim of Panama Canal
Two of Halliburton's Books
Two of Halliburton's Books

Richard Halliburton and His "Live For the Day" Motto

Born in 1900 in Brownsville, Tennessee, to Wesley and Nelle Halliburton, he also had a brother Wesley, Jr., born 1903 but died suddenly 1917. Richard spent his college days at Princeton University, where he was on the editorial board of the Princetonian. He left school in 1919 to spend time as a seaman onboard the Octoara, heading to London. He then spent months touring the museums but returned to Princeton. By now, he realized he had a quest to indulge in the freedom to do whatever struck his fancy and decided to become a travel writer. However, he felt to do credible writing; he must experience himself the adventures before writing about them.

Halliburton would go on to become one of a kind adventurer and writer. For instance, when he swam the Panama Canal, it was a dangerous swim full of alligators, sharks, barracudas, bacteria, and sunburn. He did have a sniper in a rowboat about six feet from him for protection. Halliburton completed his swim in ten days and was charged $.36, the lowest toll paid in its history. This is just the way Halliburton delved into his risky adventures. Halliburton would go on to write many books of his adventurers, giving lectures and writing articles for publishers such as the Boston Globe, newspapers in Milwaukee, Kansas City, Columbus, and Toronto. The public loved him and made him a millionaire.

Halliburton urged people to see the world as a marvel before modern progress obliterated them. He wanted to be remembered as the most traveled man ever lived.

He was always on the search for wild adventures and the freedom to search for them.

Halliburton's Protector Boat in Panama Canal
Halliburton's Protector Boat in Panama Canal
The Flying Carpet
The Flying Carpet

The Flying Carpet Around the World

Halliburton and Moye Stephens set off on an around-the-world trip. It took some time to outfit the correct bi-plane, get the necessary paperwork, and finally loading the plane with supplies. They departed 12/22/1930 from Burbank, Ca. Stopping in Paris, then onto France and Spain, to Timbuktu, eventually through Europe, Turkey, Cairo, Singapore, Borneo, and the Philippines. On many stops, the duo was greeted warmly and invited for dinners and air shows. They arrived back at Burbank Airport 6/4/1932 having covered 33,660 miles, 34 countries, and 178 landings.

Books by Halliburton

Here is a list of books by Halliburton:

  • 1925 The Royal Road to Romance bestseller three years, nine languages
  • 1927 The Glorius Adventure
  • 1929 New Worlds to Conquer
  • 1932 The Flying Carpet
  • 1933 India Speaks
  • 1935 Seven League Boots
  • 1937 Book of Marvels

Sea Dragon
Sea Dragon
Crew of Sea Drgon
Crew of Sea Drgon

Halliburton's Final Adventure

Halliburton thought about a journey that would propel back in the limelight and came up with the idea of crossing the ocean from Hong Kong to San Francisco, California. After months of securing the perfect Chinese Junk, the crew and supplies they departedHong Kong on March 4, 1939, and within three weeks, they ran into a Typhon 1200 miles from Midway in the pacific ocean. Four hundred miles from them the liner, President Coolidge was also fighting the Typhon. After failing to have radio contact, the Coast Guard thought it was merely a publicity stunt but did finally initiate a search. In May, the US Navy searched with ships and planes with the SS Astoria assisting in the search. The pursuit ended with all the crew and Halliburton presumed lost at sea. Missing since March 1939, they were declared dead on October 5, 1939. Halliburton is buried in an empty grave on the family plot in Forest Hill Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee.

Halliburton's House, Laguna Beach, California
Halliburton's House, Laguna Beach, California

Halliburton's Hangover House

The house got its name Hangover because of the 400-foot sheer canyon it was built. The house was constructed of concrete, steel, and glass. It had a living room, dining room, and three bedrooms, one for Mooney, one for Levy, and one for himself. Rumors have said that Halliburton's ghost still haunts the house.

Halliburton never married, and his companions were mostly male and were Ramon Novarro, Noel Sullivan, and life partner paul Mooney.

Halliburton's parents wrote a book of his life with facts taken from his over 1000 letters to his parents. The only thing they left out was their son's reference to homosexuality. Their book was Halliburton: His History of Life Adventurers as Told to his Father and Mother.

Halliburton's father donated $400,000. In 1962 to build Halliburton Tower at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee.

Plague on Halliburton Tower
Plague on Halliburton Tower
Halliburton Tower, Memphis, Tn
Halliburton Tower, Memphis, Tn

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