Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Injuries or Deaths from Slipping on Banana Peels

The trope of slipping on a banana peel is often encountered in the comics, but a search through online newspaper archives reveals scores of reports of people being injured, or even killed, in that way. Following is a representative list.

1888, Will H. Willis, Galveston, TX, slips, shoots himself, dies (see below)
1891, Catharine Finney, Philadelphia, dies
1901, Thomas McGuire, Rochester, NY, injured
1902, Mrs. August Ritter, Newton, KS, injured
1907, “William Lytle, of San Francisco, is haunted, pursued, and terrorized by a plague of banana skins. For nearly two years he has lived in terror of death or injury from the peelings of the fruit, and even now, after suffering all kinds of hurts and woes, he firmly believes that the banana skins at last will kill him.” “Man Has Many a Slip,” The Washington Post, 7 July 1907.
1915, Richard L. Williams, Youngstown, OH, dies (see below)
1922, Robert H. Russell, Dallas, dies (see below)
1924, Caspar Schmidt, Middletown, CT, slips, shoots wife dead (see below)
2001 Dorothy M. Ellis Williams, Edwardsville, IL, injured
2007, Joyce Walker, Chicago, injured
2011, Ida Valentine, Fontana, CA, injured

“A Singular Cause of Death,” The Daily City News (New Castle, PA), 18 May 1888, p. 1.


“Slips on Banana Peel; Soldier Dies,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, 29 June 1915, p. 1.

 “Banana Peel Fall Kills an Insurance Agent at Dallas,” Concordia Blade-Empire (KS), 10 June 1922, p. 1.

“Banana Peel | Caused Him to Slip and Gun To Be Discharged, Killing Wife, Is Husband’s Story,” Cincinnati Enquirer, 27 December 1924, p. 1.

“Purse Grabber Meets Defeat on Banana Peel,” New Cambria Leader (MO), 11 Nov. 1927.

Here are two Prohibition-era reports in which slipping on a banana skin leads to the discovery of alcohol.

“Banana Peel Leads to Booze,” The Tennessean (Nashville, TN), 22 November 1923, p. 1.

“Slipped On A Banana Peel; Slipped In Can,” The Klamath News (Klamath Falls, OR), 14 August 1925, p. 1.

Jeff Corriveau, “Deflocked,” 28 May 2017. 5 of 7 panels.

Guy Delisle, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China (Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2006), 66. In the late 1990s cartoonist Delisle worked in China supervising a French firm’s outsourced animation work.

Charley Jones’ Laugh Book, vol. 8, no. 10, May 1953, p. 54.

Atlas Obscura
24 July 2019

When New Yorkers Were Menaced By Banana Peels
They slipped and fell. Really!

 […] Slipping on a banana peel is a cliché, a vintage vaudeville gag. But its origins weren’t just slapstick comedy. Before it became a comedy trope, banana peels menaced New Yorkers for decades. […]

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