In between the cartoons on my award winning television series, “Drawing With Fred,” you can watch actors Brandon Stumpf, Cuyle Carvin, Kazy Tauginas, Staff Sergeant Tom Lennon and model Eric Wessel flex their muscles after eating spinach or drinking milk.
I was inspired to add brief fitness related segments to my show based upon a program conducted by Popeye announced on May 11, 1963 in The Daily Capital News from Jefferson City Missouri. The article stated; “Popeye the Sailor is putting all his muscles to work for the President’s physical fitness program. Station KRCC-TV announced the start of a campaign, the object of which is to get the theme, “fitness through exercise” over to the youngest children in the community.
Curley Howser, host of “Showtime,” read a letter from Popeye on the air in which the famous cartoon hero said he’s gone into a month of vigorous training during which he’ll eat no spinach, just to show how strong exercise alone can make him. Popeye’s fitness test, consisting of pull-ups, sit ups and squat thrusts, is the one prescribed by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under the John Kennedy’s Administration, which has given its approval to the Popeye campaign. The campaign is also being carried by other TV stations throughout the country and is being coordinated by King Features Syndicate distributor of the Popeye cartoons.”
Actors Herb Messinger, as Popeye and Brett Pearson portraying Brutus, visited several amusement parks and children’s events. The duo’s act was geared to promoting physical fitness. The Popeye comic books and Sunday strips from this era featured situations where the characters demonstrated how to do exercises. Bud Sagendorf, who produced the stories, was given a U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce citation for his “Popeye Physical Fitness Campaign.” On television, Popeye’s message of keeping fit was broadcast on 43 stations. Popeye’s message of eating the right foods and staying in shape debuted long before the early 1960’s.
In the 1930’s comic strip he would cite eating spinach and drinking milk as contributing factors to his strength. Popeye’s more memorable animated cartoons relating to the benefits of eating spinach and exercise are Strong to the Finich (Fleischer Studios, 1934), Adventures of Popeye (Fleischer Studios, 1935), Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky (Fleischer Studios, 1936), Gym Jam (Famous Studios, 1950), Lunch With a Punch (1952) and Popeye’s Pep-Up Emporium (Jack Kinney, 1960).
The sailor was also seen promoting a variety of messages, including the importance of a proper diet and exercise, on The All New Popeye Hour. These thirty second messages were produced by Hanna-Barbera for the CBS television network.
It’s only natural my series, which features Popeye cartoons, pays homage to a message the sailor has been singing about for decades. My favorite song, from Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky, was sung by his exercise class: “The way to keep wealthy is always stay healthy with Popeye the Sailor Man … Toot! Toot!
To view these fitness segments go to https://www.facebook.com/DrawingWithFred/