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How can I keep track of all the various incarnations of Olive Oyl, The Sailorman himself, and all their friends and enemies? Why, I even heard that one comic book company printed the story of Popeye and Olive's wedding day and that there was an animated cartoon series where they were married and had a son!
A: In Fleischer's Never Kick A Woman, a pretty Mae West-type gym instructor makes a play for a smitten Popeye and in Hill-Billing And Cooing, a large, ugly mountain woman (built like Bluto) wants to make an unwilling Popeye her husband. So Olive had to chow down on the green veggie. Olive also ate the spinach and saved the day in the Famous Studios cartoon, Fireman's Brawl. And, in the KFS cartoons, she would sometimes eat spinach to thrash the Sea Hag because Popeye couldn't hit a woman.
A: According to Bud Sagendorf, who wrote and drew the comic strip and comic books for a time, her measurements are 19-19-19. Of course, Famous Studios changed that and made Ms. Oyl more shapely. More than one person has expressed shock and surprise over the 36-24-36 Olive who appears in Parlez-Vous Woo, for example. But trivia contests and questioners are probably thinking of the more traditional Olive Oyl, which Sagendorf drew.
A: There may indeed be things wrong with you and with me, but I doubt they have anything to do with our reactions to Olive Oyl in old Popeye cartoons.
First, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that art is very subjective.
Secondly, not every film featured all, or even some, of Olive's "improvements" and sometimes the "improvements" would be on display in certain scenes, or even frames, of a film and then vanish for the rest of it. And sometimes, Olive would backslide (just like us - she's a very human character) and the old personality would re-emerge. Why in Cookin' With Gags, she's downright nasty! But this doesn't really change my opinions about her because...
Thirdly, my opinions about Olive are based on the bulk of the Famous Studios' work (not on one particular film or bit) and my impressions were formed by seeing the cartoons again and again over many, many, years. When I was growing up, Popeye was on TV every morning (including Saturdays and Sundays) and every weekday afternoon. Sometimes he was even on more than one station, as we got broadcasts from two nearby cities. It was possible to watch four Popeye shows a day! Popeye remained on, either mornings or afternoons, during my graduate studies, and when I was in the Boston area for my post-grad work in the early eighties, there he was on TV again. From the late 50s through the 80s, Popeye was a TV star!! And over three decades, I must have seen a cartoon like Snow Place Like Home, for instance, oh...let's just say that if I had a dollar for every time I've seen it, I'd be a long way toward being out of debt now. When you see these films that many times, you begin to notice things you missed before - expressions on the character's faces, snatches of music, some of the quick, almost subliminal shots of a pretty Olive Oyl, etc. And certain themes are literally hammered home.
So, if Olive Oyl doesn't do it for you, try watching the cartoons a few more times. Or don't and agree to disagree with me agreeably and see if there's some other page on my site which might be more your cup of tea.
LESSONS IN LIFE AND LOVE
What I expose myself to for long periods of time will affect me, for good or for ill. I had better choose wisely!
A: It's true that Ms. Oyl does tend to have a roving eye. After all, although the Famous Studios' creators revamped her, she still has some traits in common with her earlier incarnations, and fickleness has been a part of Olive from Segar on. These cartoons are still about Popeye and Olive Oyl, not Popeye and Sally! However, there are certain things relating to the Famous Studios' cartoons which mitigate Olive's flirting with other guys.
It often seemed as though Olive's romantic interludes were more of an outgrowth of her very pleasing personality (see "From Olive Drab To Olive Fab" - Part 1) than a sign that she was unstable or disloyal. She's an enthusiastic, throw herself fully into every moment of life, dream big dreams, dare to live and feel person. It's only natural that, at times, she would get swept along by the setting, the circumstances, and the mood and suddenly come to her senses later and say, "This guy's getting carried away with his amorous advances. I don't really love him. I'd better put a stop to this!!!"
And it would only be wrong for someone to "play the field" if he or she had already made a commitment to another. But watching the Famous Studios' cartoons, you get the impression that to Olive, Popeye is just one guy she likes among many, that he's a potential mate, not an actual one yet. Olive seems to be trying to make up her mind who she likes best and who "Mr. Right" really is. Although we all (me included) regularly refer to Ms. Oyl as "Popeye's girlfriend," is she? Consider that in cartoons like The Anvil Chorus Girl, House Tricks, Farmer And The Belle, Symphony In Spinach, Service With A Guile and A Job For A Gob, Popeye and Bluto compete for a chance to win Olive's attention/affection. For a while in each cartoon it seems that they both have an equal shot with her.
In other films, it's only a matter of which of the two asks Olive out first that is the factor in determining who gets the date (Lunch With A Punch, Shaving Muggs, Floor Flusher, Mister And Mistletoe, Parlez-Vous Woo, I Don't Scare, and The Crystal Brawl). She invites Bluto to her party in Jitterbug Jive and in that film, as well as in Beaus Will Be Beaus and Cookin' With Gags, she seems to prefer his company to that of Popeye's. She asks Bluto on a date in Cookin' With Gags, and accepts dates with him in Beaus Will Be Beaus,
Fright To The Finish, I Don't Scare, The Crystal Brawl, Vacation With Play, Quick On The Vigor, and All's Fair At The Fair among other films. When Olive has to decide which one of the two rival's marriage proposal to accept, she doesn't say, "I'll go with the only one I truly love," instead it's, "Eeny, meeny, meiny, mo."
And when Popeye humiliates her on their wedding day (due to Bluto's dirty tricks), after she breaks off the engagement with him, she gladly and willingly heads to the altar with Bluto, even chasing after him when he chickens out (Bride And Gloom)! In the only other cartoon in which she and Popeye are engaged, she contemplates what life would be like married to him, decides she wants no part of it, and calls the marriage off (Nearly Weds)! In a way, all this actually made it easier for us to develop crushes on Olive Oyl. After all, we weren't disloyal to Popeye by doing so because she wasn't really Popeye's girl!
Also, it's not always a matter of Olive throwing "sweet, good guy" Popeye over for someone else. See "Why Olive Oyl Was Attracted To Other Guys". Sometimes Popeye either was a jerk in some way, or was made to seem like one to Olive because of his rival's tricks. Sometimes the other guy earned her gratitude for saving her from danger. Occasionally, Olive actually had some good reasons for dumping The Sailorman.
Finally, although we've seen Olive give Popeye the brush-off over and over again, realize that this has as much to do with the conventions of cartoon making at the time as it does with Olive's character. The idea of continuing storylines throughout episodes of cartoons began with the advent of made-for-TV fare. While we're now used to things like "Ruff And Ready", "Rocky And Bullwinkle", "Underdog", "Starblazers", "The X-Men", and "Spider-Man", theatrical cartoons were much different. Each theatrical cartoon started and ended a story. It often seemed as though the characters were always starting over with a clean slate each time a new cartoon began. Think of the number of times Bugs Bunny was "first introduced" to Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam! The creators were faced with coming up with stories that would make sense featuring characters that the audience would identify and recognize, even if some of the audience members hadn't been to the movies for quite some time. In the case of Famous Studios, the easiest way to make Popeye cartoons that everyone would recognize as Popeye cartoons was to have stories of Popeye and another guy slugging it out over Olive. It's not the case that if these characters existed in the "real world," Ms. Oyl would be standing up Popeye every ten minutes.
LESSONS IN LIFE AND LOVE
Sometimes I pity Popeye. It's hard to be totally committed to someone who isn't totally committed to you. And there are scenes in some cartoons of a dejected, broken-hearted Sailorman (ex. All's Fair At The Fair, Alpine For You). While it's okay during the courting process to try and "win" someone's heart, there also often has to come a time when you say, "This just isn't working out," and then, hard as it is, move on. It takes wisdom to know when that time has come. But I've seen people suffer for years the pangs of unrequited love or stay for years in a repressive job. Don't be afraid to eat your spinach and declare, "That's all that I can stands 'cause I can't stands no more!"
Personality traits that are strengths can also at times be weaknesses. For example, maybe I'm the person who will always see that a job gets done right. That may take me far in the business world, but in a volunteer organization I may step on toes and run roughshod over people's feelings. I may be a hard worker, but I could become a work-aholic.
Know thyself and be careful!
Q: How can I keep track of all the various incarnations of Olive Oyl, The Sailorman himself, and all their friends and enemies? Why, I even heard that one comic book company printed the story of Popeye and Olive's wedding day and that there was an animated cartoon series where they were married and had a son!
A: Check out the links on my Popeye Page for all sorts of Popeye info. And in order to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Popeye (but were afraid to ask!), join THE OFFICIAL POPEYE FANCLUB and receive their fun and informative quarterly news-magazine.
A: The Paramount/Famous Studios cartoons were originally made to be shown in movie theaters for primarily adult audiences, yet were suitable for all ages in case children were watching. The cartoons were no more daring than the live-action feature attractions were during the 40's and 50's. When some of the same creators worked on the later KFS Popeye cartoons that were specifically made for TV and directed at children, many of the elements I'm writing about were toned way down, or all but eliminated.
Besides, although I'm concentrating on such things as Olive's appeal and how guys reacted to her, remember that these were just part of the cartoons. The films also had good triumphing over evil, the bad guy getting his just desserts, the underdog coming from behind and winning, Popeye doing his amazing feats, puns, slapstick, sight gags, funny signs, super-powered fights, characters morphing, etc., all things that children enjoy and some that maybe they need to see.
I don't find anything that goes on in a Popeye cartoon any more offensive than the Animaniacs ogling and chasing The Nurse, or Bugs Bunny saying, "Okay, so she's mechanical!" or Pepe Le Pew declaring, "Everyone should have a hobby - mine is making love!"
And we let our kids watch those films. And certainly Popeye isn't as traumatic or "inappropriate" as some Disney movies which feature parents murdered, beloved characters brutally treated or magically cursed, drunken stupors, etc.
Popeye gave many of us a "safe" girlfriend to think about as we were discovering the opposite sex. Let's face it - there's a big difference between a Popeye cartoon and a Playboy magazine. The cartoons taught me that women were special and should be treated as such, that romance, if coupled with morality, could be glorious, and even how to woo someone!!!
(Go to my Popeye FAQ page for MORE questions and answers!)
My home page with links to my Buffy, Popeye, TV/Movies, Beliefs, and other pages.
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All the aspects of Bluto I could think of are discussed on various Bluto pages. Go here for a complete listing.
As the title says, lots about Olive Oyl. You can choose from a number of titles to link to many other of my pages about this lovely lady.
My Popeye Page. Lots of links to my pages about the King Of Spinach.
This page was created using Corel Word Perfect Suite 8 and Netscape Navigator Composer. All characters and images are legal properties of their respective companies and are used here without permission for entertainment, review, and informational purposes only. All other material is copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 by Steve R. Bierly.