Popeye the Sailor
Betty Boop/Popeye the Sailor series
Popeye and Betty.JPG

Betty Boop and Popeye doing the hula
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Produced by Max Fleischer
Voices by William "Billy" Costello
William Pennell
Bonnie Poe (all unc.)
Music by Sammy Timberg (unc.)
Sammy Lerner (unc.)
Animation by Seymour Kneitel
Roland Crandall
William Henning (unc.)
Studio Fleischer Studios
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) July 14, 1933
Color process Black-and-white
Running time 7:30
Language English
Followed by I Yam What I Yam, The Old Man of the Mountain

Popeye the Sailor is a 1933 animated short produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures. While billed as a Betty Boop cartoon, Betty Boop only makes a small appearance, as it actually starred Popeye the Sailor in his first animated appearance.


The cartoon begins with stock film footage of newspapers rolling off a printing press. The front page of one of the newspapers appears, with a headline declaring that Popeye has become a movie star. The camera zooms in on the illustration of Popeye, which then comes to life, as Popeye (voiced by William "Billy" Costello) sings about his amazing prowess in his signature song "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man."[1]

On land with his nemesis Bluto (voiced by William Pennell), the two sailors vie for the affections of Olive Oyl (voiced by Bonnie Poe). They take the object of their desire to a carnival, where they watch Betty Boop doing the hula. Popeye jumps up on stage, wraps the bearded lady's beard around his waist for a grass skirt, and dances with Betty.

Bluto abducts Olive Oyl and ties her to a railroad track, using the track itself as "ropes", in order to cause a train wreck to kill Olive. Popeye defeats his enemy, and rescues Olive, punching the approaching steam locomotive in the "face", wrecking it in a crushing halt and sparing Olive's life, thanks to his ever-reliable can of spinach.

Notes and comments

  • This short also introduces the song "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man", written by Sammy Lerner, loosely based on the first two lines of the "Pirate King" song in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta, The Pirates of Penzance. It would eventually become Popeye's theme song, with a portion of its instrumental appearing over the opening credits. For this cartoon, and at least one following it, the opening credits theme was an extended instrumental of "The Sailor's Hornpipe" (of which only the first bar was used in the later cartoons) followed by a vocal variation on "Strike Up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor)" substituting the words "for Popeye the Sailor" in the latter phrase. The song was sung twice in the opening credits of this cartoon, first by a deep-voiced singer who sounds like the Bluto voice, and then by Bonnie Poe (as the voice of Betty Boop).
  • Popeye was one of several newspaper cartoons that the Fleischers animated (the others included Otto Soglow's The Little King and Carl Thomas Anderson's Henry).[2] In order to increase the chance of Popeye's success, the short was billed as a Betty Boop cartoon, though she is only featured briefly. The short has also been released as Betty Boop Meets Popeye the Sailor.
  • The cartoon is included in the DVD collection, Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Volume 1, released by Warner Home Video in 2007 (This is the only Betty Boop cartoon available on an official DVD by Warner Home Video). Unlike other Betty Boop cartoons, this was not sold to U.M. & M. TV Corporation due to Popeye's appearance. It, like the other Popeye cartoons, was sold to Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.), whose holdings are now owned by Time Warner (also the only Betty Boop cartoon owned by a.a.p., Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros.).


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