85TH FILM ANNIVERSARY!
Broadcasting Magazine, 1965]
July 14, 1933, Popeye the Sailor hopped on a platform to dance the
hula with Betty Boop. His appearance in Betty's cartoon launched his
own long running animated short subject series for theatrical and
eventually television distribution. On July 14, 2018, the
spinach-eating strong man celebrates his eighty-fifth anniversary as
a star of motion pictures and television.
first appeared in E.C.
Segar's Thimble Theatre
comic strip on January 17th, 1929. He was only intended for one
story but the newspaper reading public demanded Segar return him to
the cast. Fleischer Studios was the first animation studio to
produce animated films featuring Popeye, Olive Oyl, J. Wellington
Wimpy, Swee'pea, Eugene the Jeep, Bluto and Poopdeck Pappy.
Studios black and white Popeye cartoons were highly imaginative with
unpredictable plots. In 1936, the studio's Popeye
the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor,
produced in Technicolor, was nominated for an Academy Award.
Studios (owned by Fleischer distributor Paramount Pictures) succeeded
Fleischer for the sailor's theatrical releases. In September 1956,
Popeye's animated antics first appeared on the television screen and
created a sensation! The demand for Popeye cartoons was so great new
films were put into production by King Features Syndicate who owned
the rights to the character.
reported, in their June 10, 1964 edition, "Popeye cartoons now
occupy the Ft. Knox of video cartoon land. The gross of all Popeye
cartoons to date is estimated at $20,000,000." Variety also
stated, "Popeye is now being telecast in about 190 U.S.
Stations, in about 170 markets." These figures applied to the
theatrical productions, while King Features made for television
episodes were sold to 125 stations.
1978, CBS launched The
All New Popeye Hour
for Saturday morning television, produced by Hanna-Barbera. Although
this series had to tone down the violence it was an instant hit and
aired for three years. It was later cut to a half hour and renamed
Popeye and Olive Comedy Show.
This version remained on CBS for two years featuring Popeye as a
caveman and Olive Oyl in the army. During the 1987-88 season CBS
to its Saturday morning line up. The series featured the sailor
married to Olive Oyl and having a spinach-hating son referred to as
Reruns of the earlier
theatrical cartoons continued to air on independent television
stations until these markets vanished during the 1990s. The Cartoon
Network aired Popeye's theatrical cartoons for several years although
the black and white films were dreadfully colorized. Beginning in
an anthology series, aired on the Cartoon Network. This half-hour
program showed restored versions of cartoons from both Fleischer and
Famous Studios. By the time the program ceased production in 2003,
forty-five episodes were produced restoring one hundred and
of the success of the Popeye cartoons is owed to the talented people
who provided the voices of the characters. These include the
original voice of Popeye, William Costello and his successor Jack
Mercer. Mae Questel, Margie Hines and Marilyn Schreffler voiced Olive
Oyl while Gus Wickie, Jackson Beck and Alan Melvin growled
effectively as Bluto.
animation historian and author, Jerry Beck, commented about the
sailor's enduring popularity, "Popeye cartoons endure because
the character has great appeal. He's an everyman who we can relate
to, and who knows that, on occasion, it will take a can of spinach to
confront the bullies we encounter in life. He's all of us and no
matter who you meet or what great adventure you embark on, Popeye is
the guy you want on your side."
the sailor's animated adventures continue to air on international
television, You Tube and Facebook. Popeye's followers on Facebook
are in the millions and audiences can keep track of his classic