2019 marks the 90th anniversary of Popeye the Sailor Man!

An old comic strip titled "Thimble Theatre" debuted 100 years ago - 1919 - and Popeye appeared for the first time in that strip ten years later, in 1929. Created by E.C. Segar, Popeye was based on a real guy named Frank "Rocky" Fiegal, who was a pipe-smokin', fist-fightin' guy.

With the comic-strip success of the Popeye character, Max Fleischer made tons of Popeye cartoons for Paramount Studios beginning in 1933. The cartoon helped push a kind of "Popeye-mania" with all sorts of toys, collectibles, premiums, clothes, comic books, big-little books, gum & candy, lunchboxes and much, MUCH more. For a while, Popeye became more popular than Mickey Mouse!

Popeye, with his super-strength coming from eating spinach, was the first cartoon super-hero, six years before Superman debuted.

75 Popeye cartoons were made throughout the 1930's, followed by 93 more through the 1940's, and 62 more through the 1950's until the series ended in 1957.

The old Popeye cartoons were packaged and sold to television beginning in the 1950's and soon Popeye's "pop"ularity kicked in all over again! The kids - and parents - loved these cartoons. Local TV stations created their own kid shows featuring Popeye cartoons, with names like "Popeye & Pals", "Popeye Theater", "Popeye & His Friends", "The Popeye Show", and others.

Mid-Michigan had it's share of Popeye kid shows. The most popular one seems to be the one that was hosted by Captain Jolly on weekdays and Poopdeck Paul on weekends. This Popeye show aired on CKLW Channel 9 out of Windsor and kept kids glued to their TV sets with the fuzzy, sometimes terrible, reception.

Another local Popeye show aired on WILX-TV 10 and was hosted by "Captain Barnacle", played by Harold Rosier of the Rosier Players. Barnacle always claimed he could see us sitting at home watching. He would tell a kid to move over so his sister could see the set, or calling out a kid who said Barnacle was lying and couldn't really see us through the TV set. He really had kids believing he could see 'em.

I know there were many, many more throughout Michigan, so please name more if you can!

Beginning in 1960, made-for-TV Popeye cartoons were produced - and still are - but they fail to reach the quality & entertainment level of the ones from the 30's and 40's. A lot of the fighting and action was tamed WAY down, making Popeye just another cartoon character...NOTHING like he was in the 30's and 40's.

Even so, Popeye cartoons still remain popular. Below are some youtube videos of old Popeye TV shows: one from New Orleans and another from St. Louis (I couldn't find any Michigan ones).

All the old Popeye cartoons are available on DVD and are worth seeking out...for the collectability, nostalgia, and fun.

Happy 90th birthday, Popeye!


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