My hero, Popeye!

“I’m Popeye the sailor man! I’m Popeye the sailor man! I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats my spinach! I’m Popeye the sailor man!” (beep beep)

Did you know that on January 17th, 1929, Popeye made his debut in a newspaper comic strip called “Thimble Theatre,” which had gotten its start in The New York Journal in 1919? Before the arrival of the sailor, the comic strip featured a full cast of characters, including Olive Oyl, Caster Oyl, Mama Oyl, Cole Oyl, Sweet Pea, Alice the Goon, Brutus, Ham Gravy, Rough House, Eugene the Jeep, Dufus, Poopdeck Pappy, King Blozo, J. Wellington Wimpy, Professor O.G. Watanozzle, and many others. Someone had one heck of an imagination when creating and naming all of these characters.

The characters experienced all sorts of adventures in the comic strip. Their lives were certainly not boring or dull. At one point, in 1923, “Ham Gravy, Olive and Castor traveled to the South Seas in pursuit of the mythical Pool of Beauty, alleged to bestow platonic physical attractiveness upon anyone bathing in its waters,” according to the website, Popeye Fandom (}.

And then, Popeye came along to add to the fun. He was constantly battling it out with the villain Brutus (aka Bluto) over the damsel in distress Olive Oyl. Just when Popeye was about to get pummeled into the ground, out came a can of spinach that turned the 98-pound weakling into a monstrous hulk. His muscles popped out of his arms, to the tune of some very dramatic sound effects. He then turned Bluto into a grease spot and saved the damsel in distress. But, being a cartoon, the grease spot Bluto didn’t stay a grease spot for long. He came back to fight other battles with Popeye.

I remember singing the Popeye theme song over and over again when I was seven years old. I don’t know how my parents put up with that incessant and repetitive noise. Nevertheless, they and many other parents survived the constant barrage of Popeye theme songs, only to discover that Popeye was turned into a movie musical in 1980. The movie featured Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, Paul Smith as Bluto, along with many others. The movie, filmed in Malta, received largely negative reviews, but, over time, reviews have softened. The negativity of the reviews included the bestowing of “bomb” ratings on the actors, director, and film.

After all is said and done, Popeye is a mighty hero who saves Olive Oyl and her son Sweet Pea from one dangerous situation after the next. He fights monumental battles against Bluto, and he demonstrates a healthy diet, as well as an awe-inspiring magic trick, by eating enormous quantities through his pipe.

You never know what’s next for Popeye. Maybe Popeye, the opera, featuring Popeye as a lyric tenor, Bluto as a basso profundo, Olive Oyl as a colortura soprano . Sweet Pea as a boy soprano, Wimpy as a baritone, and the list goes on and on. I digress a little but, in whatever format Popeye is presented, he is the hero who saves a girlfriend with the baby of unknown parentage, while delighting audiences with his superhuman (albeit temporary) strength.

2 thoughts on “My hero, Popeye!”

  1. Hi Alice, thanks for the adventure down Memory lane. Better than a rabbit hole.
    I remember the comic strip and possibly some comic books. How I might have to go look for the movie.

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