History

From the minute he walked into the comic strip, THIMBLE THEATER, and muttered his famous “D’ja think I’m a cowboy” line, Popeye the Sailor Man captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Introduced as a minor walk-on character, Popeye quickly became the star of THIMBLE THEATER. With Popeye’s arrival came a host of new, off-beat funny folks such as Swee’pea, the “infink” Popeye adopted; J. Wellington Wimpy, the world’s most notorious hamburger-obsessed moocher; and Bluto, his hard-headed, lead-fisted antagonist.

Popeye is what he is — a good-guy underdog with bulging forearms, a mean uppercut and a penchant for canned spinach. The only thing he loves more than spinach and the sea is his flighty, flirty girlfriend, Olive Oyl.

1929 Popeye made his first public appearance on Jan. 17, 1929, in Elzie Segar’s then nine-year-old comic strip, THIMBLE THEATRE, which originally revolved around Olive Oyl’s family
1933 Popeye made the jump to the silver screen in a 1933 in a Betty Boop cartoon entitled POPEYE THE SAILOR from the Fleischer Studios.
I YAM WHAT I YAM was the first cartoon in the series of POPEYE cartoons produced by the Fleischer Studios between 1933 and 1942.
1937 In 1937, spinach capital Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue to honor E.C. Segar and Popeye for their positive influence on America’s eating habits, making Popeye the first cartoon character ever immortalized in public sculpture.
Interestingly, Popeye’s spinach obsession began in THIMBLE THEATRE but became an indispensable plot device in his later animated adventures. The spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33 percent increase in U.S. spinach consumption and saving the spinach industry in the 1930s.
Popeye has been a comic-book hero since the early 1930s, both in America and around the globe.
The famed Fleischer Studios cartoons are considered the classics by fans and critics alike.
1941 Popeye joined the U.S. Navy in 1941, with The Mighty Navy (1941), the first of several war-related shorts and the first time he would appear in an all-white uniform.
Popeye was the one of the most popular cartoon stars from the 1930s through the 1960s. Overall, 753 POPEYE cartoon segments exist to date.
From 1942 to 1957, Popeye’s animated adventures were produced by Famous Studios.
1960 In 1960, King Features Syndicate produced a new series of cartoons entitled POPEYE THE SAILOR for television syndication. Two hundred and twenty cartoons were produced in two years.
1978 In 1978, an hour-long animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, THE ALL-NEW POPEYE HOUR, aired on the CBS Saturday morning lineup. In 1981, it was cut to a half hour and re-titled THE POPEYE AND OLIVE SHOW, where it ran on CBS until 1983.
1980 In 1980, Paramount Pictures released a live-action musical motion picture in which Popeye was portrayed by Robin Williams and Olive Oyl played by Shelley Duvall.
POPEYE AND SON, another Hanna-Barbera series, ran for one season in 1987-88.
In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service featured Popeye in its “American Comic Classics” collection of postage stamps issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip.
1999 In 1999, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto and the entire crew sailed into home port in Orlando with the opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure® theme park.
Visitors to Universal’s Islands of Adventure® brave the rapids and get sopping wet on the exciting twisting, churning white-water raft ride, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges®.
At Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, Popeye’s ship, Me Ship, The OliveSM, offers a charming, interactive play area for kids.
2004 The Empire State Building illuminated its world-famous tower lights green during the weekend of Jan. 16-18, 2004 in a tribute to Popeye’s 75th anniversary.
In November 2004, Popeye officially adopts Swee’pea in a ceremony officiated by Judge Greg Mathis and hosted by the National Council for Adoption in New York City.
POPEYE’S VOYAGE: THE QUEST FOR PAPPY, the first-ever Popeye the Sailor Man 3-D, CGI animated production, was released on DVD in November 2004.
Namco Networks, a leading publisher and developer of mobile games and entertainment for mass-market casual gamers, released a Game Boy Advance video game called “Popeye® Rush for Spinach” in 2005.
2007 In 2007, nearly 75 years after Popeye’s silver screen debut, Warner Home Video, Hearst Entertainment and King Features Syndicate released POPEYE THE SAILOR 1933-1938 VOL. 1.
POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1938-1940, VOL. 2 and POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1941-1943, VOL. 3 was released by Warner Home Video in 2008.
2009 On Dec. 8, 2009, Popeye was featured in the Google logo to honor the anniversary of the birth of his creator, Elzie Crisler Segar. The Google Doodle appeared with the mouseover text, “E.C. Segar’s Birthday.”
In 2011, an exclusive line of Popeye-branded apparel was unveiled and sold in Bloomingdale’s stores throughout the United States.
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