Popeye

From The TV IV
Jump to: navigation, search

Popeye is a popular character who originated in a comic strip before being animated for theatrical shorts and television. A handful of TV shows have featured him, either showing some of the theatrical shorts or in new adventures.

Popeye was created in 1929 as a supporting character in Elsie Segar's comic strip Thimble Theater (which actually starred Olive Oyl and her family, including her dad Castor and her then-paramour, Ham Gravy). Popeye was a sailor for hire and was gruff, ugly and abrasive. As time went on, he would be refined graphically, and his use of fisticuffs would only be used for the common good. He became popular enough to appear in Max Fleischer's Betty Boop cartoon Popeye the Sailor, and the concept of him obtaining his strength through spinach was developed.

Popeye's popularity as a cartoon star quickly surpassed that of a comic strip character, and he would appear in three color two-reelers, Popeye Meets Sindbad The Sailor, Popeye Meets Ali Baba And His Forty Thieves, and Popeye And Aladdin's Magic Lamp.

After Paramount got rid of the Fleischers (following an acrimonious split of brothers Dave and Max), the studio would be renamed Famous Studios (named for Paramount's music publishing outlet, Famous Music). In the ensuing cartoons, Popeye would enlist in the Navy to shore up morale during World War 2, and his Navy uniform would become the series' standard right through the Brodax shorts for TV in the early 1960s.

William Costello was Popeye's first voice, later replaced by Jack Mercer, who doubled as a story writer. With the Fleischer's practice of adding voices to a cartoon after it was filmed (as opposed to prior to animation), Mercer was able to ad lib the little asides Popeye would often toss, In the later 40s, Mercer was drafted into the Army, so Mae Questel (voice of Olive Oyl) and Harry Welch, filled in to voice Popeye. Bluto was round and pudgy, closely resembling his comic strip likeness, Once he enlisted in the Navy, Famous Studio gave him a chiseled physique. Olive was a stringbean throughout, but she was made more facially attractive.

King Features Syndicate had a new batch of made-for-TV Popeye cartoons made in 1960, and Hanna-Barbera produced Popeye shows for CBS in 1978, 1981 and 1987.

The Brodax cartoons of the early 60s came about because King Features (copyright owners of the comic strip) never saw a dime in revenue on the theatrical films, so they set up their own cartoon facility (farming cartoon work to six worldwide studios) and syndicated them to TV themselves. Bluto was renamed Brutus because King Features forgot Segar created him for them in the 30s and thought they had lost the rights to him. He was renamed Bluto in the ensuing Hanna-Barbera shows of the late 70s/early 80s.

The cartoons were syndicated to TV in 1957 by Associated Artists Productions (who also syndicated the most of the pre-1943 Warner Bros. cartoons). In the late 1980s, a batch of the black-and-white Fleischer Popeyes were sent to Korea to be redrawn and painted in color. As such, many cartoons were robbed of their original depth as many backgrounds that were originally live models on a carousel were now flat, rushed, and unappealing painted renditions. Animation that was done on 1's (one frame of film per drawing) were reduced to 2's and sometimes 3's (2 or 3 frames of film per drawing). Over the last several years, the original Paramount opening titles had been restored to the Fleischer originals (on DVD) and the Famous Studio films. The Famous cartoons are currently screened on the Boomerang cable/satellite channel.

Ensuing made-for-TV Popeye cartoons are noted below.

TV Shows

Title Format Buyer Year(s)
Popeye the Sailor Animated comedy Syndication 1960–1962
The All-New Popeye Hour Animated comedy CBS 1978–1981
The Popeye and Olive Show Animated comedy CBS 1981–1983
Popeye and Son Animated comedy CBS 1987–1988
The Popeye Show Animated comedy Cartoon Network 2001–2004

TV Specials

Title Network Airdate
Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter ABC October 7, 1972
The Popeye Valentine's Day Special: Sweethearts at Sea CBS February 14, 1979
Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy FOX December 17, 2004