The following piece was written by Watertown resident and Popeye aficionado Fred Grandinetti:
On January 17, 1929 Olive Oyl’s brother Castor was looking for a mariner to run his ship. He came across a pipe smoking swab and asked “Are you a sailor?” The reply was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” and Popeye was born. In 2019 the spinach eater celebrates his 90th birthday.
Popeye first appeared in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip gaining legions of fans. Eventually he starred in a long running animated short subject series produced for motion pictures and television.
By 1965 454 Popeye cartoons were syndicated across the country with additional films produced for Saturday morning broadcasts.
Since the 1930’s thousands of Popeye related products have filled store shelves all over the world. Popeye is particularly popular in Italy where he’s known as Braccio Di Ferro. Thousands of original comic books have been published in Europe and his comic strip adventures have been translated into the Italian language.
The sailor has been a fixture in Watertown since the early 1990’s. Resident, Fred M. Grandinetti, began drawing safety posters featuring the sailor and his crew for The Cunniff School’s nurse’s office. This led to Popeye cartoons appearing on Grandinetti’s long running cable access series Drawing With Fred. Popeye programs, for adults and children, were a fixture at the Main, East and North branch libraries for several years.
Dolores Grandinetti had the honor of being the sailor’s companion when he was featured in Watertown’s Millennium parade in 2000. Popeye was often seen, wearing his white sailor’s uniform, in the town’s veteran’s day parade.
The Comic Shop, located at 134 Main St. in Watertown, features Grandinetti doodling Popeye for fund raising events twice a year.
Brand new Popeye cartoons are currently be produced for preschoolers while his classic films are being released to DVD.
Happy 90th Birthday!