Popeye and company are neither gone nor forgotten, but pop up when you least expect them!
Here's my response to a USA Today question: "What cartoon character did you relate to as you were growing up?"
I always related to Popeye. I, too, only had one good eye and was picked on by bullies. But Popeye came through with the help of his spinach and I came through with the help of my "spinach" - my family, my friends, and my religion.
I also loved the Famous Studios version of Olive Oyl. She was drawn to be attractive, given a winning personality, and had a cute voice. Plus, the writers of the cartoons placed her in romantic (sometimes even sexy) storylines. More than one Popeye fan has shared with me that these cartoons helped jump start their puberty!
I also liked the Famous Studios versions of Bluto and Popeye's other rivals. They were handsome body builders, sly, subtle, and smooth. Therefore they were more of a temptation for Olive and more of a challenge for Popeye.
My answer was published on their web page and maybe even in the print edition for all I know. - Steve
I planned to use Popeye as an illustration for a children's message I was giving in church one Sunday morning. However, I did so with some fear and trepidation. Would the kids even know who Popeye was? After all, they ranged in age from 2 ½ to 10 years and it had been quite a while since any of the Popeye cartoons had been shown on television stations their homes could receive. It turns out I needn't have worried. During the worship service, I pulled out a picture of The Sailorman and asked them who it was. "Popeye!!" they shouted delightedly. Then after the service, a man came up to me and did his Popeye impression. (He wasn't bad, but he was no Mike Brooks.) Another man talked about the old cartoons. This all got me to thinking. The men were baby boomers, so I could understand their connection to Popeye, but what about the children? How would anybody growing up in Northwest Iowa today even know Popeye exists?
I began looking for "Popeye sightings" in our area and here's what I found:
-Our local small town drugstore sells Popeye vitamins for children. They are prominently displayed right beside the prescription counter, so that every time Mommy or Daddy have to get medicine, the kids see Popeye and his pals.
-In a local library there is a children's book about animated cartoons. The pages about Popeye have been cleanly ripped out, leading my wife and I to believe that some child wanted pictures of The Sailor Man pretty badly.
-Our local supermarket carries Allens Spinach. And there's a picture of Popeye on every can!
- On our cable system, I saw a MasterCard commercial which featured a quick appearance by the KFS cartoon character Olive Oyl. The commercial was touting all of the things money could buy, like a Wonder Bra: hence the clip of Ms. Oyl.
- Another commercial (I believe it was for some sort of diet product), featured a clip of the Famous Studios' Wimpy eating a hamburger (from Insult To Injury).
-At second-hand video stores and pawn shops in nearby cities, I found several different Popeye cassettes, (labeled "Popeye", "Popeye In Love", "Our Hero Popeye", etc.) featuring the public domain Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons. There must be people around here who like Popeye!
- At the candy display in one of our local supermarkets, there are "Popeye" and "Betty Boop" candy necklaces (although Popeye's is called "Candy Beads"). They come in packages featuring the faces of The Sailorman and the flirty flapper, respectively. Appropriately enough, The Boopster's package is covered with pink hearts and lipstick prints and her candy is soft and chewy, while Popeye's is crunchy. He's a tough guy, you know. Both items are "Made In China for: R. L. Albert & Son, INC." The characters copyrights (of KFS and KFS/Fleischer Studios) list "2000" as the date.
- A local Pizza
Hut restaurant has a dining room that is lined with shelves holding antique
toys. One of them is an old Popeye gumball machine in the shape of our
- During the 2001 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Popeye and Olive Oyl rode a float dedicated to the characters that have appeared as balloons over the years.
- My wife saw
this one. On an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke show, Rob was sick and
Laura insisted that he stay home in bed. But he was worried about his
job and snuck out of the house to go to work. Ritchie sees him and
tells Laura. She calls Rob, "Stupid!" and Ritchie wants to
know why. Then a dialog like the following takes place:
- On the January 17 edition of "Fox And Friends," the trivia question was, "What military cartoon character made his debut in the comic strips on January 17, 1929?" The answer was, "Popeye," and they used a Famous Studios' picture of our hero. Brian said that it was always interesting to him that, on some level, Olive Oyl was attracted to both Popeye and Bluto. Mancow said that he always loved Popeye and still does.
- In Harrisburg, PA, there's a billboard featuring the Fleischer/Segar Popeye making a muscle to promote the strong signal of a local cell phone service company.
- During the Superbowl, Popeye appeared in a commercial for Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando. The costumed "live action" Sailorman was arm wrestling an oriental tourist.
- Some episodes of the sitcom, "Full House," now shown on many stations as syndicated reruns, featured imitations of, and references to, Popeye. And a Popeye toy could be seen in the girls' room.
- Columnist Kathleen Parker mentioned Popeye in an editorial about Jesse Jackson: "Admittedly, were any of those young men my son/brother/husband/father, I wouldn't care if Popeye had negotiated their release. But it seems clear enough that Jackson's success has resulted not from his magnificent diplomatic skills, but from the captors' wish to embarrass the United States and insult our leaders."
- On an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Ray tries to get the kids to watch a Popeye cartoon. The kids don't like it. Ray says something like, "Oh, sure, nobody likes Popeye - until Bluto's got you in a headlock!"
A book review by Norman N. Brown appeared recently (2004) in our local
newspaper, the "Sioux City Journal." He was reviewing
"Sweet Pea at War: A History of USS Portland" by William Thomas
Generous Jr., The University Press of Kentucky. This ship saw service
during World War II. It was named Sweet Pea after Swee'Pea from
"Popeye" cartoons. Sounds like an interesting book!
When I first saw the Popeye Minute Maid ad, I was delighted that Popeye, Bluto, Wimpy (2 of them!) and Olive Oyl were back in new animation. I also thought it was significant that the bigwigs obviously believed that most people would know who these characters were and what their backstory was. That says something about Popeye's popularity and that he and his cast are a definite part of American culture. I thought the commercial gave a quick nod to the Famous Studios' cartoons because for a fleeting second or two Olive's face is pretty.
As for the meaning of the commercial, to me it seemed to be saying that Minute Maid Orange Juice makes you feel so good about life that you'll patch up old feuds and get along with everybody. As for the boys ignoring Olive Oyl, I felt that they realized that she would bring trouble and break up their friendship. Maybe they were in a mood to do "guy things" and hang out with buddies and Olive would have stood in the way of that. I didn't think that Popeye and Bluto were supposed to be gay in the ad. We're in a sorry state when two guys can't be pals without being labeled as "gay." In college, my male, decidedly heterosexual, friends and I would sometimes swear off dating for a while and just go places as a group. This was usually due to relationships breaking up with members of the opposite sex. Why can't Popeye and Bluto swear off Olive for awhile?
Later, when I heard that different groups with political agendas were either claiming the commercial as a validation of their beliefs or attacking it as subversive material, I was saddened. The classic cartoon characters should be for everybody, should remain apolitical, and shouldn't have their basic natures changed.
So, the bottom line is that I'm glad Popeye got a chance to be on the national stage again, but I'm sorry to see all the controversy that his appearance caused.
Have you ever
run across Popeye or his friends and enemies in a place where you didn't
expect to see them? Want to tell us about it? EMAIL ME and I'll put some of your
sightings here (Most recent first).
John from Tennessee - A few years back there was a Burger King commercial featuring Wimpy. I'm not sure if it was Wimpy from Famous Studios or KFS, but it was for the Burger King's Kid's Meal. It showed Wimpy putting mustard, then ketchup on the burger. Then it shows Wimpy hopping up and down saying, "Oh happy day! Oh Happy Hamburger Day!!" I hope this helps.
Ken C. - Have you ever heard of the live act that King Features produced back in '61 or early '62 to play at amusement parks and fairs during the summers? Some time ago, I came across promotionals that were destined for the trash can and saved them from being lost. All on paper, it included a first press release, radio or TV announcements, 10 and 20 second spots, and On-The-Lot Announcements that were read over the Public Address systems. This packet also included an original "King's Features Tale Of A Sailor," being notes on the first 35 years of Popeye. A brief history of the actor, Herb Messinger as Popeye. It had some flyers and a bunch of pictures all lost but one in bad condition.
John W. - Are you familiar with the Popeye dance craze of the early '60s?
(I remember that Chubby Checker had a dance hit, "Popeye The Hitchhiker," but I don't know what the dance movements were. - Steve)
There was a Popeye dance craze, but it was mainly in New Orleans. I don't even know if it spread elsewhere in the Gulf South. There were actually Popeye dance movements. A number of New Orleans recording acts cut Pop Eye themed records. There's a compilation disc - on Night Train records, I believe - with these Pop Eye and Popeye-related songs. This came to my mind because I saw a wire story about 2004 being the 75th anniversary of Popeye.
in New Orleans,
your hands on your hip,
"Pop Eye," Huey Smith & The Clowns,
It got in the national charts as high as about 52. I don't remember all the words. It's certainly a high-spirited number.
Rockin' Ed - I wanted to comment on something that I didn't see in either your Popeye page or the Oldies page on your site - maybe because you're not aware of it. But, there was a dance that originated out of New Orleans called "The Popeye" - supposedly because it was created by Ernie "Mother-In-Law" K-Doe after his son said that he walked like Popeye. Several records about Popeye came out around this time:
Josh B. - 5-27-2003
I'm not sure if
this was a regional thing, but we had a
Kevin B. - 5-27-2003
I've seen Popeye make a cameo appearance in a Paramount/Famous Movie cartoon entitled, Toys Will Be Toys! In this film, the toyshop is closed for the night, but it doesn't stop the toys from coming to life and having their own fun. The toys parade down and around the toyshop to the strains of "The Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers" (not to be confused with "The March Of The Wooden Soldiers," the L&H Film Operetta Spoof). A Popeye pull toy comes along. He's trying to water his spinach plants, but a boxing glove comes from out of the workings of this toy and pops him (pardon the pun) in the face.
Another sighting is our super-strong hero in an earlier orange drink commercial for "Vitamin-Fortified Start." The commercial aired back in the 1970's. It was interesting to see Popeye encourage the kids at home to drink "Start." The voice to a degree sounded like Mercer's, but most of it sounded more like Allen Swift's interpretation of Popeye. So, it's anybody's guess as to who did the voice.
- JED passes along this info:
7-10-02 -- Tonya let me know that there are now Popeye and Olive checks from Liberty Check printers only available through credit unions. Thanks, Tonya!
7-10-02 -- An Italian restaurant in Sioux Falls, South
Dakota, has a billboard ad which makes use of a clever pun. It bills
itself as "Where Popeye Met Olive Oil." - Steve
- From: Sparki - Florida
- From - Sabra (Mother of Taylor, 1st grader)
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.
Discuss the Famous Studios and KFS cartoons featuring Olive Oyl with other fans .
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