This is one of the two stories Washington Irving is best known for. The other being “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” This one, however, is more often considered a “fairy tale” than the other, and I included it here partly because it’s a good story, but mostly because it was the only story from the TV series “Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre” which I haven’t done yet, and that was bothering me.
Rip Van Winkle woke to the sound of birds singing and the feel of the sun on his face. He blinked his eyes a few times until he could see clearly. But even after this, he wasn’t sure he was seeing clearly. He distinctly remembered that he came to the mountains on a crisp, autumn morning. Now there were blossoms on the trees as though it were spring. Instinctively, Rip stroked his chin as he thought about this, which led him to his second shock of the last two minutes: A beard. Quite a long one, in fact. Now, when a man falls asleep, he can usually expect to wake up with a little bit more fuzz than he had before bed, but not a beard that hung all the way down to his feet! His hands, too, seemed wrinkled and gnarled, as though they belonged to a man much older than he. He looked around for Wolf, but he was nowhere to be found.
Rip Van Winkle stood there gaping at Rip Van Winkle for several minutes and the bystanders began to get worried that this old stranger might cause harm. Finally, for no apparent reason, the young man sleeping in the chair woke up and looked around. “Oh, hello, old timer. Can I help?”
That very day, Rip moved in with his daughter and her husband where he spent the rest of his days very much as he had done before his strange adventure had begun. He got to know both his children and his grandson and became a pillar of the small, American town. He was never able to fully understand what had happened to him in that cavern in the mountain, and once or twice he had considered going back to investigate. But he always decided against it, and chose instead to just make the most of the time he had left…of course he always had his daughter or son-in-law wake him up every morning. Just to make sure.
- Faerie Tale Theatre (TV) This episode starred Harry Dean Stanton as Rip and Tim Conway and Ed Begley, Jr. played his friends. Also starred Chris Penn and Talia Shire.
- The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (TV) In this series, Magoo played a new role every week. Including the famous sleeper in this story.
- Rip Van Winkle (1978) This short film from the creator of the California Raisins, Will Vinton, was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated short.