1890s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
EXPLORE THE

HISTORY OF POPEYE

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.

1894

December 8th

A Cartoonist Is Born

Cartoonist and writer, Elzie Crisler (E.C.) Segar,
is born in Chester, Illinois.

1919

Thimble Theatre Launches

E.C. Segar begins work at William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal where on December 19 he launches the “The Thimble Theatre” comic strip starring Olive Oyl and Harold Ham Gravy.

1925

January 25th

The First Sunday Issue

On January 25, the initial Sunday episode of "Thimble Theatre" is published and the cast grows to include Olive and Castor’s parents, Cole and Nana Oyl, then Castor’s wife, Cylinda, in 1926.

1929

January 17th

Popeye's First Appearance

On January 17, E.C. Segar introduces the character Popeye to the "Thimble Theatre"
cast with his famous first line — ’Ja think
I’m a cowboy?!
.

Fun Fact: Popeye is known as Iron Arm in Italy, Karl Alfred in Sweden and Skipper Skraek or "Terror of the Sea" in Denmark.

1929

August 27th

The Love Affair Begins

On August 27, Olive Oyl steals Popeye’s heart when she mistakenly kisses him on the cheek, starting their long, tumultuous love affair.

1931-1936

Popeye Boosts Spinach Consumption

The spinach industry credits Segar and Popeye with increasing the United States consumption of spinach by 33%!

Fun Fact: Popeye’s canned and fresh spinach has been available for consumption for decades and is still available today! Click HERE to find out more!

1932

September 12th

Bluto Enters the Scene

On September 12, Popeye first encounters “Bluto the Terrible.” Bluto was later adapted into animated form by Fleischer Studios in 1933.

Fun Fact: Bluto is also known as Brutus.

1932

April 10th

Wimpy Coins His Famous Phrase

On April 10, J. Wellington Wimpy coins his famous catchphrase - "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today".

Fun Fact: His phrase originally started in 1931 as, "Cook me up a hamburger. I'll pay you Thursday."

1933

July 24th

Popeye Finds Swee'Pea

On July 24, Popeye finds the “infink” Swee'Pea on his doorstep and decides to adopt him.

1933

July 14th

Popeye's Silver Screen Debut

Popeye makes his silver screen debut in the July 14, 1933 Betty Boop cartoon entitled "Popeye the Sailor", produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Popeye was originally voiced by William Costello and later by Jack Mercer. Popeye’s first animated appearance also introduces his theme song, "I’m Popeye the Sailor Man," composed by Sammy Lerner, giving birth to Popeye’s most famous line "I’m strong to da finich ‘cause I eats my spinach."

1933

Popeye Gets His Own Cartoon Series

"I Yam What I Yam" is the first cartoon in the Popeye series produced by the Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures between 1933 and 1942.

Fun Fact: Popeye was one of the most popular cartoon stars from the 1930s through the 1960s with 600+ Popeye cartoons in existence.

1935-1938

Popeye Is On The Radio

The Popeye the Sailor radio program airs 15-minute episodes three times a week. Supporting voices included Detmar Poppen as Popeye, Olive Lamoy as Olive Oyl, Charles Lawrence as Wimpy, Jackson Beck as Bluto and Mae Questel as Swee’Pea.

1936

March 16th

Jeep Arrives

On March 16, Olive Oyl’s Uncle Ben gives her a gift – a pet named Eugene the Jeep — a mysterious, magical animal he found in Africa.

1937

Popeye Is Honored For His Positive Influence

Spinach Capital of the World, Crystal City, Texas, erects a statue to honor E.C. Segar and Popeye for their influence on America's spinach eating habits, making Popeye one of the first cartoon characters ever immortalized in public sculpture.

1941

Popeye Enlists in The U.S. Navy

“The Mighty Navy” is the first of several war-related cartoon shorts starring Popeye.

Fun Fact: This is the first time Popeye appears in an all-white uniform.

1942-1957

Famous Studios Begins Production

Popeye’s animated adventures are produced by Famous Studios.

1948

February

Popeye Gets His Own Comic Book Series

In February, Dell Comics publishes Popeye’s first comic book series, written by Bud Sagendorf. Later comic series were published by Gold Key, King Comics, Charlton Comics and Whitman Comics.

1960

A New Popeye Cartoon Series Is Created

King Features Syndicate produces a new series of cartoon adventures entitled Popeye the Sailor for TV syndication.

1961

Saturday's Popeye

Andy Warhol debuts the concept of “pop art” in 1961 with a collection of paintings including a piece entitled, Saturday’s Popeye.

1961

Summer 1961

Popeye By Lichtenstein

Popeye was one of the very first Pop paintings that artist Roy Lichtenstein created in the summer of 1961.

1977

E.C. Segar is Honored By His Birthplace

To honor Popeye’s creator, E.C. Segar, a 6 ft. tall, 900-pound bronze statue of Popeye is erected in Chester, IL in Elzie C. Segar Memorial Park. The “Home of Popeye,” Chester, IL was E.C. Segar’s birthplace and the Popeye & Friends Character Trail begins there. It includes statues honoring many other Thimble Theater characters, and features a new installment each year. An annual Popeye Picnic and parade is also held in Chester the weekend after Labor Day.

1978

The All New Popeye Show Runs On CBS

Hanna-Barbera Productions releases The All-New Popeye Hour, an animated series of 60-minute episodes that aired as part of the CBS Sunday Morning lineup. Later, in 1981, the show was cut into shorter 30-minutes episodes and re-titled The Popeye and Olive Show, which ran on CBS until 1983.

1980

December 12th

Theatrical Film Is Released

Paramount Pictures releases a live-action, musical motion picture “Popeye” on December 12, 1980. The film was directed by Robert Altman and starred Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl.

Fun Fact: The Popeye Village in Malta still exists today! It has grown from its days as a film set for the 1980 Musical Production 'Popeye' into one of the major tourist attractions on the Maltese Islands.

1982

December 12th

Popeye Hits The Arcade

Nintendo™ launches the Popeye arcade game.

1995

Commemorative Stamp Is Issued

The U.S. Postal Service features Popeye in its "American Comic Classics" collection of postage stamps issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip.

1995-1996

Olive Oyl Makes a Fragrant Statement

In 1995, Moschino launches the Cheap & Chic fragrance in an Olive Oyl shaped perfume bottle, a design which was then recognized in 1996 when it received the FIFI Award for Best Women’s Packaging of the Year. The packaging has continued to evolve over the years and new iterations of the original design were produced in 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009 and in 2013.

1997-1998

New Popeye Series Stars Popeye and His Son

Popeye and Son, an additional Hanna-Barbera animated series runs.

1999

Universal Studios Brand Experience Opens

Popeye and his friends sail into home port in Orlando, Florida as Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure® theme park opens, launching the churning white-water raft ride, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges® and Popeye’s ship- Me Ship, The Olive™ - an interactive play area for kids.

2004

January 16th-18th

Popeye Takes Over a NYC Icon

Popeye becomes the first-ever brand to takeover the lights of Empire State Building – the tower glowed green from Jan 16-18 in celebration of Popeye’s 75th Anniversary.

2004

November 2004

Popeye offically adopts Swee'pea

In November, Popeye officially adopts Swee’pea in a ceremony officiated by Judge Greg Mathis and hosted by the National Council for Adoption.

2004

November

Popeye's First Appearance in 3-D

Popeye’s first-ever 3-D, CGI animated production “Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy” airs on Fox.

2004

Popeye Becomes a Spokescharacter

Popeye appears in an advertisement for BMW in Spain.

2005

Popeye's Arcade Game is Reimagined for Game Boy®

Nintendo® releases a Game Boy® Advance version of the 1980s arcade game! Popeye® Rush for Spinach, is developed and released by Namco Networks.

2006

Popeye Shares Some Wise Words

Popeye is quoted in a Pepsi advertisement.

2007

Olive Oyl Becomes a Spokescharacter

Olive Oyl stars in a commercial for Prego pasta sauce.

2007-2008

The Classic Cartoons are Made Available on DVD

Nearly 75 years after Popeye’s silver screen debut, Warner Home Video releases classic Popeye the Sailor episodes from 1933-1943 in 3 volumes on DVD.

2009

December 8th

Popeye Appears as the Google Doodle

Popeye is featured as the Google Doodle on December 8 in honor of his creator Elzie Crisler Segar’s birthday. The image appeared with scroll-over text, "E.C. Segar’s Birthday."

2009-2011

Popeye Inspires Sculpture

Artist Jeff Koons creates a statue in Popeye’s likeness in mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, which in 2014 sold to Steve Wynn for $28 Million at auction. Today, Popeye and his can of spinach reside at The Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.

2011

Olive Oyl Promotes Butter

Olive Oyl appears in a UK advertisement for Kerrygold spreadable butter.

2013

Tuesday Arrives

Wimpy and Popeye star in a commercial for Bank of America in which Wimpy finally pays his debts.

2016

Popeye Inspires a Designer Fragrance

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier globally launches his “Le Male” fragrance, inspired by Popeye, across Europe and in the US.

2016

Popeye Promotes Milk

Spinach isn’t the only think that keeps Popeye strong! In Canada, he serves as a milk spokesperson for Le Lait.

2016

Kiehl's Features a Popeye Men's care collection

Kiehl’s launches two Popeye-themed men’s care kits for Father’s Day at David Jones in Australia.

2016

Popeye Stays Cool at Sea and on Land

Havaianas releases Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto flip-flops styles.

2016

Joyrich Collection Launches

Joyrich launches collections of Popeye apparel for both men and women.

2017

Popeye Gets his Own Channel

"Popeye and Friends Offical" YouTube Channel Launches.