Growing up, Fred Grandinetti loved watching Boomtown with Rex Trailer and Bozo the Clown, and the cartoons they would run during the show.
Today, Grandinetti has his own show, “Drawing with Fred,” where he can show cartoons, including his favorite – Popeye the Sailor. The show can be seen on Watertown Cable Access, along with cable stations in Needham, Bedford, Londonderry, N.H., and Salem, Mass.
Among the highlights of his time doing the show, Grandinetti said, was having Jackson Beck, the voice of both Bluto and Brutus, do the voice of Brutus on Drawing with Fred.
The animated shorts are not the only feature of the show. Grandinetti wanted to make sure he added something that young people can learn from the program.
“When Public Television came along, they started wiping out those shows,” Grandinetti said. “The sad thing about that is they lost the messages like ‘be kind to people.'”
In between cartoons, Grandinetti features public service announcements. Some cover water safety and others include fitness tips.
He creates the public service spots himself, using local actors. A number of his spots feature Cuyle Carvin, an actor he met through the New England Actor website.
Carvin has gone on to land roles in movies (including Alien Opponent, Mineville and Terminal Legacy) and parts on television series including CSI, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles and Hawaii Five-0.
“The best thing to come out of the show is working with people like Cuyle,” Grandinetti said.
Carvin likes Popeye, according to Grandinetti, and was happy to do public service spots on fitness, including one where he eats spinach and grows muscles, just like Popeye.
Grandinetti has created coloring books featuring Popeye, and when he showed it to Carvin, the actor liked it.
“I said to him, why not make a coloring book and I will make turn you into a cartoon character,” Grandinetti said.
Carvin agreed and he uses them when he makes public appearances about to raise money for veterans services, Grandinetti said.
Grandinetti started drawing when he was just 3 years old. By the time he was 7 or 8 he noticed how the characters looked slightly different depending on the animator and he paid close attention to the credits to see who drew the episode.
“I saw how Olive Oyl started out homely and they tried to make her more attractive,” he said.
He became an expert on Popeye, and has written five books related to the cartoon sailor and articles on subjects such as The Avengers, I Dream of Jeannie, Bozo the Clown and the original Batwoman and Catwoman.
Drawing with Fred can be seen on Watertown Cable Access on the Public Channel on Mondays at 9:30 a.m., Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., Thursdays at 2 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.