Popeye is a sailor character and protagonist appearing in comics and animated cartoons, known for his squinting (or entirely missing) right eye, huge forearms, skinny upper arms, and corncob pipe. He can occasionally be seen smoking his pipe but usually he toots it like a tugboat and sometimes uses it as a weapon by blowing the smoke in his enemies faces. His strength varies among his portrayals: as per the original comics, he is superhumanly strong and can lift huge objects, while in later adaptations he is not quite as mighty until he gains a boost in strength by eating spinach. He is known to mutter when he speaks and mangle the English language (e.g, he calls elephants and infants "elephinks" and "infinks", respectively). Popeye's creator, E. C. Segar, characterized him as violent and uncivilized yet introspective and with a high moral fiber.
In World War II-era animated shorts, Popeye was a member of the U. S. Navy and was sometimes seen fighting the Germans and Japanese. The cartoons with these battle scenes have often been banned from television for being "politically incorrect." Popeye's portrayal in the animated adaptation has alternately been criticized for giving him a substance dependency as a means to solve all of life's problems, or praised for bringing children to eat healthy vegetables.
Character historyPopeye was created in 1929 by E. C. Segar in his comic strip Thimble Theatre (inspired by a local man, Frank "Rocky" Fiegel) and his huge popularity led him to be adapted into animation. In the various cartoons he would usually have to rescue his girlfriend Olive Oyl from Bluto/Brutus, his rival and sometimes friend. Some of the cartoons take a different approach, like him rescuing Olive from another threat, dealing with something alone, fighting a small enemy he cannot beat, or watching over his adopted son Swee'Pea. During the WWII years, Popeye changed into a white Navy suit, continuing to look like this in animation from the 1940s through to the 1960s. Also, in 1940s shorts, Popeye gained four nephews named Pipeye, Peepeye, Poopeye and Pupeye, whose exact relation to Popeye remains unclear. In the fifties, Popeye's cartoon catalog was sold by the Paramount studio to the a.a.p., National Telefilm Associates, U.M.&M. TV Corp., and Harvey Films companies to be broadcast on television. Animated shows were also made for television in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and in 1980 a theatrical movie called Popeye was released and went on to gross $49,823,037; more than double the film's production budget. A more recent television movie called Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy was made in 2004, produced by Mainframe Entertainment for Lions Gate Entertainment and King Features Entertainment.
Urban legendRumor has it that in September 1938 head of Fleischer Studios Max Fleischer, as a thank-you to all artists who moved to his new animation studio in Florida, animated a graphic sexual encounter between his two stars, Betty Boop and Popeye. Reports on this supposed film, known as “Welcome to Miami,” range from it being 30 seconds of pencil drawings to a full-color short film.
- William Costello (a.k.a. Red Pepper Sam) from 1933 to 1935
- Jack Mercer from 1935 until his death in 1984
- Mae Questel from 1945 to 1946
- Harry Welch from 1945 to 1947
- Maurice LaMarche from 1985 to 1990
- Billy West in from 2004 to 2006
- Jackson Beck during the brief time Jack Mercer served in World War II
- David Coulier (Robot Chicken)
- Jim Cummings (Commercials)
- Robin Williams (Live Action Film)
- Tom Kenny (2014 animation test)
- Popeye | The Home of Popeye the Sailor Man website
- Don Markstein's Toonopedia Popeye page
- Popeye at the Internet Movie Database