History Of An American Icon: Facts About Popeye The Sailor Man

The fictional cartoon character Popeye celebrated his 90th anniversary in 2019. Popeye the Sailor Man is recognized worldwide, and over the years he has appeared in numerous comic strips, animated cartoons, and films. He is considered one of the greatest cartoon characters of all time.

There are many things you may not know about Popeye, including whether he’s based on a real person or how his character boosted food sales during the Depression. Popeye also helped two people fall in love in real life. Here are some fascinating facts about the animated sailor who first captured people’s hearts nearly a century ago…

He Made His Comic Strip Debut In 1929

popeye making his debut
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Popeye the Sailor debuted in comic strip form in January 1929. He was created by Elzie Crisler Segar (a.k.a. E.C. Segar) in a comic series called Thimble Theater, which at that point had been around for 10 years. Popeye was 34 years old and was distinguished by his one eye and a pretty bad speech impediment.

Popeye was born in a typhoon in Santa Monica, Calif. Fans quickly embraced the character, and before long the comic strip was renamed Thimble Theater Starring Popeye before it was just named Popeye in the 1970s.