Popeye the Sailor was based on a real person

The Popeye cartoon character is based around the life of a ‘muscly’, squinty-eyed sailor name Popeye the Sailor Man. The comic was created in the late 1920s by E.C. Segar. and is based on someone Elzie Segar knew in Illinois.

The Beginning of Popeye the Sailor Man
The Popeye the Sailor Man character debuted in The Thimble Theatre comic strip in 1929. He was a minor character hired by character couples Olive Oyl’ and ‘Hamgravy’ (her fickle boyfriend) to be a part of a ship’s crew. While he was only meant to be around for a few strips, the Popeye character quickly became very popular and the focus of the strip. The originally unimpressed and at times fickle, Olive Oyl became Popeye’s girlfriend. Popeye finds a baby in the mail which he adopts and names Swee’Pea.
He and Olive Oyl watch the child at different times. Popeye the Sailor Man’s good friend, J. Wellington Wimpy, was famous for offering to “gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”. Other characters were Bluto, Popeyes nemesis for Olive Oyl’s attention, and Popeye’s pet named Eugene the Jeep. There was also a cobbler, Alice the Goon, Swee’Pea’s babysitter, and a caveman named Toar. Due to the popularity of the strip, it continued to run after Segar’s death, run by his artists, writers, and assistant, Bud Sagendorf.

Frank ‘Rocky’ Fiegel

Via Find a Grave
So who exactly is Popeye based after? Well, the man who Elzie Segar knew in Illinois was named Frank “Rocky” Fiegel. He was known as a “local” legend. He was strong and demonstrated it in the many fights he was in. Like his character, “Rocky” smoked a pipe and was toothless, Segar took a few other liberties. Fiegel was more of a drinker than a spinach eater, and he was a bartender, not a sailer.

He was, however, said to be very kind to children-a characteristic Popeye was given as well. Recently statues have been raised of the other local character inspirations. Rumor has it that Fiegel wasn’t really aware of his role in the creation of our favorite character Popeye until his final years of life, passing away in 1947. An engraving of Popeye’s face is on his gravestone. A statue of him (Popeye) was raised in Chester, Illinois in his honor.

From Real Life to Cartoon
Paramount Pictures adopted the strip character into the Popeye the Sailor animated cartoon in an agreement with Max Fleischer of Fleischer Studios and King Features in 1932. Popeye’s popularity continued to rise, making these cartoons some of the most successful in the 1930s. William Costello was the original voice of Popeye. The most well-known voice (laugh and mumbles) for the character was Jack Mercer. Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop, was the voice of Olive Oyl, while Gus Wickie voiced Bluto.

This Fleischer Studios production was where the “spinach” trope became heavily emphasized. It was only spoken of from time to time in the comic strip. In an unfortunate turn of events, Paramount Pictures fired Fleischer Studios and began running the cartoon and others under their newly created Famous Studios. These cartoon shorts are currently owned by Turner Entertainment and distributed by its very own sister company, Warner Bros.

Over the years the Popeye franchise has included tv cartoons, games, ads, comic books, and even a live-action movie in the ’80s where Robin Williams played Popeye, Shelley Duvall plays Olive Oyl directed by Robert Altman. It’s been ranked by TVGuide to be one of the “50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time”.

Editors Note: This article was originally published on August 27, 2019.



This has nothing to do with Sheikh Jarrah

It’s about Hamas seeing a chance to seize the narrative and increase its own influence and control over Palestinians in Jerusalem

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 10, 2021. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

As I write this, rockets are raining down on Israel from Gaza, and protests are being instigated in cities throughout the country. People have already died as a result of this senseless violence and more will surely follow in the next few days. As a Palestinian living in Jerusalem, I am frustrated and angry — and I can only blame Hamas. The fanatics who rule over Gaza with an iron first cannot resist the opportunity to stir up anti-Jewish violence for their own political gain. If innocent Jews and Muslims die in the process, all the better for them.

The pretext for the latest missile barrage and social media incitement is Sheikh Jarrah, where a long-running legal dispute was scheduled for a court hearing. This had been a private matter between Jews who have an old property deed from the 1800s and the residents of four homes who have lived there for decades and do not want to pay rent. It is the kind of situation that should be handled by a local municipal court. This could happen in any other country and there would be no public interest. But this is Jerusalem, so you have to view everything in the context of the political situation. You also have to ask yourself: who stands to gain from political violence right now?

After Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas canceled highly anticipated elections, Hamas simply saw an opportunity it could not pass up, exploiting the Sheikh Jarrah situation and an already tense environment during the holy day of Leylat Al Qadr and Jerusalem Day. Hamas is currently running a social media campaign calling for Palestinians to incite violence during demonstrations in Jerusalem and elsewhere. They are encouraging Palestinian youth to throw their lives away by hurling rocks and makeshift bombs at police.

Hamas-led riots outside of the Al Aqsa Mosque prove that Israeli police are not at fault for the dangers preventing Muslims from praying. Hamas has incited mobs and provoked violence with the intention of framing Israel for ethnic cleansing. Just today, provocateurs filled several busses to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the “historic” riots and answer the Hamas call to incite violence.

Most significantly, Hamas leaders ordered hundreds of rockets to be launched in the general direction of major Israeli cities. Many of them did this from the comfort of their luxury villas in Doha, Damascus, or elsewhere, knowing full well they themselves are safe from any blowback. It is important to remember that Hamas’s penchant for murder is almost matched by their blundering incompetence, which is partly the reason one out of every three of their rockets crashes into Gaza where the only possible victims are Palestinian. They also apparently shelled Abu Ghosh, an ancient Arab village.

This dispute is not actually about four houses in East Jerusalem. This is about Hamas seeing a chance to seize the narrative and increase its own influence and control over Palestinians in Jerusalem. Don’t buy their fake news and let them dilute their own blame. In the coming days, Jews and Muslims are both likely to die because Hamas saw political upside in violence. Don’t forget it.

Bassem Eid (born 5 February 1958) is a Palestinian living in Israel who has an extensive career as a Palestinian human rights activist. His initial focus was on human rights violations committed by Israeli armed forces, but for many years has broadened his research to include human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Palestinian armed forces on their own people. He founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in 1996, although it ceased operations in 2011. He now works as a political analyst for Israeli TV and radio.
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 10, 2021. (Mahmoud Illean/AP)