Terribly GoodThe fun of an epic fail.

Terribly GoodThe fun of an epic fail.

  • Words Robert Ito
  • Photograph Carl Kleiner

Zippy Chippy, the American thoroughbred, came from a long line of champion racehorses but ended his career winless after 100 tries, largely because he had a sour disposition and didn’t much like to run at all. Florence Foster Jenkins, the American socialite, was such a poor vocalist that audiences would flock to performances just for the sheer wonder of hearing “the world’s worst operatic singer.” 

Despite their shortcomings (and in many ways, because of them), both attained an odd sort of fame, and even fandom. Zippy Chippy, a beast so ornery he once bit a fellow competitor on the ear in the middle of a race, was the subject of a 2016 biography and a beloved children’s picture book. Jenkins’ singing career, such as it was, inspired several plays and a 2016 biopic starring ...

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