Those were the days, my friends…
Popeye has always been a mother’s best friend. When faced with her child’s refusal to eat spinach or other green veggies, she can always resort to saying, “Don’t you want to grow up strong like Popeye?”
Funny thing is, when Popeye was first introduced to the world in 1929 as a minor character in the E. C. Segar comic strip Thimble Theater, he didn’t get strong from eating spinach. His super-human strength came from “rubbing the head of the rare Wiffle Hen.”
This video above is the historical first appearance of Popeye in a Fleisher cartoon. It’s actually a Betty Boop cartoon, although the sexy star of the Fleischer Studios only makes a brief appearance. It established the basic Popeye storyline — Arch-enemy Bluto attacks Olive Oyl, Popeye eats spinach and saves the day. What makes the cartoon noteworthy, however, are some of the hilarious Fleischer sight gags.
The cartoons would later introduce some characters that had not been present in the comic strip, “notably Peepeye, Pupeye, Pipeye, and Poopeye, Popeye’s look-alike nephews.”
The ubiquitous sailor man is one of those cultural icons that has conquered just about every form of media available, including movies, comic strips, comic books, theatrical cartoons, television cartoons, radio, and even video games. Not to mention, of course, the countless amount of merchandise that has carried his image.