Popeye the Sailor




Elzie Crisler Segar

First appearance (cartoon)

Popeye the Sailor 1933

First appearance (comic)


film Actor

Robin Williams

Voice Artists

William Costello (1933-1935)
Jack Mercer (1935-1984)
Maurice LaMarche (1984)
Billy West (present)

Popeye the Sailor is a fictional character famous for appearing in comic strips, animated films and numerous television shows. Created by Elzie Crisler Segar Popeye first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929.

History Edit

Although Segar's Thimble Theatre strip, was in its tenth year when Popeye made his debut, the sailor quickly became the main focus of the strip and Thimble Theatre became one of King Features' most popular properties. The strip, now titled Popeye, continues to appear in first-run installments in its Sunday edition, written and drawn by Hy Eisman. The daily strips are reprints of old Sagendorf stories.

In 1933, Fleischer Studios adapted the Thimble Theatre characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. These cartoons proved to be among the most popular of the day, and the Cartoons continued production through 1957.

Since then, Popeye has appeared in comic books, cartoons, an arcade, and a Popeye Movie starring comedian Robin Williams as Popeye.

On January 1, 2009, 70 years since the death of his creator, Segar's character of Popeye (though not the various films, TV shows, theme music and other media based on him) became public domain[1] in most countries, but remains under copyright in the United States.


Popeye is a middle-aged independent sailor with a unique way of speaking, disproportionately muscular forearms with an anchor tattoo on each, thinning hair and an ever-present corncob pipe which he "Toot-toot's" like a steamship's whistle. Despite some mistaken characterizations over the years, Popeye is generally depicted as having only one eye, his left. In at least one Fleischer cartoon, Bluto refers to Popeye as a "one-eyed runt." It has never been revealed specifically how Popeye lost his eye, although he claims it was in "the mos' arful battle" of his life.

In addition to a gravelly voice and a casual attitude towards grammar, Popeye is known for having a speech impediment, which either comes naturally or is caused by the ever-present pipe in his mouth. Among other things, he has problems enunciating a trailing "t"; thus, "fist" becomes "fisk" and "infant" becomes "infink." This speech impediment even found its way into some of the titles of the cartoons.

Popeye is depicted as having superhuman strength, though the nature of his strength changes depending on which medium he is represented in. Originally, the comic-strip Popeye gained his strength and invulnerability in 1929 by rubbing the head of the rare Whiffle Hen. From early 1932 onward, especially the cartoons, Popeye was depicted as eating spinach to become stronger. The animated shorts depicted Popeye as ridiculously strong, but liable to be pummeled by the much larger Bluto before his eating of the spinach.

Story and CharactersEdit

Popeye's strange, comic and often supernatural adventures have taken him all over the world, and placed him in conflict with enemies such as the Sea Hag and Bluto. His main base of operations is the town of Sweethaven. Popeye's father is the degenerate Poopdeck Pappy, who does not share his son's moral righteousness and has been represented as having abandoned Popeye. Popeye's sweetheart over is Olive Oyl; although the two characters often bickered, especially in early stories. Popeye is the adoptive father of Swee'Pea, an infant left on his doorstep.

When fed up with this treatment or exhausted, he would eat spinach, which would instantly restore and amplify his strength to an even great level. In the comic strips, spinach is presented as a panacea, infusing Popeye not only with his extraordinary strength, but also making him invulnerable to all sorts of threats (including bullets, a basilisk's petrifying gaze) In the animated shorts, Popeye's ingestion of spinach is equally fanciful and often involves squeezing the can until the top opens, or sucking the spinach through his pipe. Occasionally, spinach has a similar invigorating power on other characters.

Other differences in Popeye's story and characterization show up depending upon which medium he is presented in. While Swee'Pea is definitively the adopted child of Popeye in the comic strips, he is often depicted as being related to Olive Oyl in cartoons. The cartoons also occasionally feature family members of Popeye that have never appeared in the strip, notably his look-alike nephews Peepeye, Pupeye, Pipeye, and Poopeye.

Popeye's vastly versatile exploits are deemed even more amusing by a few standard plot elements. One is the love triangle between Popeye, Olive and Bluto, and the latter's endless machinations to claim Olive at Popeye's expense. Another is his (near-saintly) perseverance to overcome any obstacle to please Olive. Finally, in terms of the endless array of villain plots, Popeye mostly comes to the truth by "accidentally" sneaking on the villains, the moment they are bragging about their schemes'.


Even though there is no absolute sense of continuity in the stories, certain plot and presentation elements remain mostly constant, including purposeful contradictions in Popeye's capabilities. Though at times he seems bereft of manners or uneducated, Popeye is often depicted as capable of coming up with solutions to problems that seem insurmountable.


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