Acting for Two: At one point in the 40's, Popeye's actor, Jack Mercer, was drafted. What did they do? Have Olive's voice actor, Mae Questel, do a nearly flawless impersonation of Popeye!
Cash Cow Franchise: Originally. With decade-upon-decade of comic strips, countless comic books, and hundreds of animated shorts shown in movie theaters and TV, not to mention the live-action movie, Popeye was one of the heavy hitters in his heyday. As The Eighties progressed, however, he became much less popular, aside from baby boomer nostalgia. The "Popeye's Fried Chicken" restaurant chain? Used to be Popeye's very own eatery, but not anymore. (Actually, the claim is that the chain is named for The French Connection's Popeye Doyle — but the sailor was used in the advertising for a while.)
Cross-Dressing Voices: Popeye's voice actor Jack Mercer had to briefly leave the studio to serve a tour of duty during WWII. In his absence, Mae Questel voiced Olive Oyl and Popeye, and you can't tell the difference.note Back in her Vaudville days, one of Mae Questel's talents was as a vocal impressionist who could mimic the likes of Maurice Chevalier and Eddie Cantor, among others.
Digital Destruction: The Warner Bros. releases of the Black-and-White Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons ALMOST Avert this. For the most part the cartoons have been restored beautifully and are very clean with no real DVNR damage to speak of, however damage DOES still show up in some cartoons, minor line thinning and erasing, though you'd have to purposely look for it to really notice. Volume 2 plays this a bit straighter as they goofed in recreating a couple of title cards and some shorts suffered digital interlacing, though this has been rectified by a DVD replacement program. The Color Specials are somewhat straighter examples, but not by much:
Popeye Meets Sindbad is a beautiful restoration, save for some unusual color alterations that turn up the pink, blue and turquoise, for example Sindbad's outfit was originally purple, here it's bright blue.
Ali Baba for the most part averts this with the colors much truer to the original 1937 colors, save for an odd glitch in the cave scenes were the purple is turned up considerably. John K. makes note of this on his blog.
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp nearly averts this, the print is an excellent restoration with no noticeable damage or DVNR, though it seems a lot of the colors have been turned up in this release.
Executive Meddling: At the height of his popularity, Popeye developed a strong following among children. King Features Syndicate, as a result, forced the character to be a better role model for kids. Poopdeck Pappy was soon created as an outlet for some of Popeye's old vices.
Franchise Killer: The 1980 movie adaptation has been accused of being this, though there were a few more animated shows/specials (such as the short-lived Popeye and SonSpinoff Babies Saturday morning cartoon in 1987) and video games afterward, and the original shorts were rerun on TV well into The Nineties.
Popeye's best-known voice actor, Jack Mercer, is also known for his role as Felix the Cat (and many other voices) in the 1960s TV cartoon. Curiously, Mercer also played other characters in the series, including Popeye's friend Shorty. In "Seein' Red, White and Blue", Mercer voices a little devil character, and using his normal speaking voice, which sounds akin to a nasally schoolteacher, rather than his gruff Popeye voice.
Olive Oyl has the same voice as Betty Boop, Mae Questel.
For a brief period of the Miami, Florida produced Popeyes, Bluto was voiced by Pinto Colvig, best known as the original voice for Goofy.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: All of the black and white Fleischer and Famous Popeye cartoons (and the three Fleischer color specials) are on DVD, but the color Famous Studios shorts have yet to see an official home video release, and are otherwise only available in old public domain copies or bootlegs. Likewise, some of the 60's made for tv Popeye cartoons are on DVD, but not all of them.
Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.: Some people that are unaware of the series comic roots tend to forget that Olive Oyl was one of, if not the main character of Thimble Theatre, and has been around for much longer than Popeye, 10 years before he even appeared in the comic.
The Other Darrin: Popeye went through several voice actors in the run of theatrical shorts. His first, William Costello (AKA Red Pepper Sam) was fired due to his ego getting to his head, and he became impossible to work with. And for "Be Kind to Aminals", the studio inexplicably hired Popeye's radio voice actor, Floyd Buckley, to voice him. Jack Mercer would assume the role of Popeye for decades starting with "King of the Mardi Gras", but on one occasions where he was not available, another voice actor briefly substituted for him, and even Mae Questel would substitute for Mercer now and then!
Olive Oyl and Bluto also had rotating voice actors. Bluto is especially notable for having two major actors throughout the theatrical run: Gus Wickie for the bulk of the B&W cartoons (and before that he was voiced by William Henning), and Jackson Beck for the Famous Studios shorts, both bringing very distinct interpretations of the character. Pinto Colvig also briefly lent his voice to Bluto in the later B&W shorts.
The iconic Popeye theme was meant to be a placeholder song, but it ended up becoming so liked, that they used it as his real theme anyway.
Shamus Culhane, during his brief tenure on Popeye, proposed making an episode entirely aboutWimpy, exploring his personality and obsession with hamburgers. Max Fleischer shot down the idea as "too psychological".
The Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons came dangerously close to having every one of their shorts becoming a Missing Episode; when Fleischer signed the contract for the series, the negatives would be contractually obligated to be destroyed by the end of their run on it (namely 1942, the same year Famous Studios took over the series). Fortunately, by some fluke of fate, the cartoons were all spared, and ended up airing on tv for decades, and eventually all of their cartoons got released on DVD.
Regarding the 1980 film, the parts of Popeye and Olive Oyl were originally intended for Dustin Hoffman and Gilda Radner. And the character of Eugene the Jeep was originally going to be in it, but was written out because the special effects would have been too expensive. The script was rewritten so that Swee'Pea took over Eugene's role of a Living MacGuffin with telepathic powers.
Nintendo's Super Mario franchise, probably the most significant in videogame history, was essentially made with original characters because the company lost the rights to make Popeye arcade games and had to retool what they already had into Donkey Kong... Ironically, they did produce a Popeye video game a year later, which was a moderate success.
Some sources claim that the Popeye franchise only exists because a scientist Misplaced a Decimal Point when reporting the amount of iron in spinach. This claim is false. There was no erroneous decimal point. Segar created Popeye and later added spinach.
Write Who You Know: Would you believe that Popeye was based off of a real life person that E.C. Segar knew in his younger days, a local vagrant named Rocky Fiegel? Olive Oyl was based off of Segar's schoolteacher (with her cartoon voice taking inspiration from actress Zazu Pitts), and Wimpy was based on William Schuchert, the manager of the Chester Opera House where Segar worked, and a nice man who shared Wimpy's fondness for hamburgers. Wimpy's full name was inspired by Wellington J. Reynolds, one of Segar's art instructors. In the cartoons, Dave Fleischer wanted Bluto's voice to resemble that of the character Red Flack in the 1930 film The Big Trail, played by Tyrone Power Sr.
Artistic License - Biology: In Females is Fickle, Olive's goldfish jumps over the edge of Popeye's ship, and she screams "Oh Popeye save my goldfish! He'll DROWN!!"