In the late 1950s, the original Popeyetheatrical shorts released by Paramount Studios from 1933 to 1957 began airing in many television markets and garned huge ratings.King Features Syndicate, who owned the print rights to the "Popeye" name, did not earn any money from the syndication of the Paramount theatrical Popeye films, and so they decided the best way to capitalize on Popeye's television popularity was to commission a new series of made-for-television Popeye cartoons — and fast.Al Brodax served as executive producer of the cartoons for King Features' then-newly created TV production and distribution division (now known today as Hearst Entertainment, named after King Features' parent company, the Hearst Corporation). Jack Mercer, Mae Questel and Jackson Beck returned for this series, which was produced by several different animation companies:
Famous Studios, who produced the theatrical entries from 1942 to 1957, also returned, although by this point they had been renamed Paramount Cartoon Studios.
The series was produced using the limited animation technique, whose production values contrasted sharply to their Popeye theatrical counterparts. The artwork was streamlined, simplified for television budgets, and the entries were completed at a breakneck pace. 220 made-for-television cartoons were produced in two years; in contrast, 231 theatrical cartoons were produced in 24 years.
Several minor changes were made for the characters. Though World War II had ended 15 years prior, Popeye still retained his white Navy uniform (except in Barbecue for Two, in which he wears his original clothes). Olive Oyl's appearance was a hybrid of different incarnations; while her outfit reverted to the Fleischer years of a red turtleneck, long black dress and huge shoes, her hair retained the mid/late 1940s and 1950s makeover initiated by Famous Studios (except in Barbecue for Two, in which she uses her Fleischer/early Famous Studios design, and Hits and Missiles, in which she wears her later Famous Studios clothes). The biggest change was to Bluto, whose name was changed to "Brutus." At the time, King Features believed that Paramount owned the rights to the name "Bluto." King Features actually owned the name, as Bluto had been originally created for the comic strip; however, due to a lack of thorough research, they failed to realize this and reinvented him as Brutus to avoid supposed copyright problems. Realizing their mistake, King Features began to promote Brutus as an entirely new character. His demeanor was altered slightly and his physical appearance was changed from being muscular to morbidly obese. In addition, the sailor/Navy uniform was replaced with an enormous blue shirt and black pants.
Many entries lifted storylines directly from the comic strip, resulting in the inclusion of many characters not seen in the theatrical releases, including the Sea Hag, Toar, Rough House and King Blozo. Like their theatrical counterparts, the made-for-television series was also a big ratings success. Popeye the Sailor aired in syndication in the US well into the 1990s. Notably, the 1960s shorts would mark the final time Mae Questel would voice Olive Oyl.
List of episodes
Larry Harmon Pictures
Muskels Shmuskels - Popeye runs afoul of circus heavyweight Brutus.
Mueller's Mad Monster
Caveman Capers - Popeye remembers his prehistoric ancestor's discovery of spinach
Ace of Space
College of Hard Knocks
Uranium on the Cranium - Popeye and Brutus race to an island containing uranium
Sheepish Sheep-Herder - Popeye and his Pappy clash with rustlers
Track Meet Cheat
Crystal Ball Brawl - Brutus tries to steal a crystal ball in Popeye's possession
Rembrandt Films/Halas and Batchelor
Sea No Evil
From Way Out
Swee'pea Soup - King Blozo's subjects demand that he step down and install Swee'pea as King
Incident at Missile City - King Blozo's kingdom comes under attack from a city of missiles
Dog Catcher Popeye
The Baby Contest
Oil's Well That Ends Well - Brutus cons Olive into purchasing a seemingly dry oil well
Duel to the Finish
Gem Jam - The Sea Hag entraps Olive with a cursed perfume which turns her to a gem thief
The Rain Breaker
Messin' Up the Mississippi
Boardering on Trouble
Aladdin's Lamp - The Sea Hag acquires a magic lamp
Butler Up- Popeye must act as Olive Oyl's butler
The Leprechaun - Sea Hag steals Irish gold
Hamburgers Aweigh - Sea Hag tries to hijack Popeye's ship
Popeye's Double Trouble - Popeye sees two Olives thanks to Sea Hag's magic
The Mark of Zero - Popeye tells his niece Diesel a story about a swashbuckling swordsman
Myskery Melody - Poopdeck Pappy is hypnotized by a haunting flute melody
William Won't Tell
Pop Goes the Whistle
Autographically Yours - Popeye and Brutus compete for the affection of a young movie fan
A Poil for Olive Oyl - Sea Hag tries to foil Popeye's exploration of a pearl area
My Fair Olive
Giddy Gold - The Whiffle Bird turns a Tunnel Of Love into a genuine gold mine
Strange Things Are Happening
The Medicine Man
A Mite of Trouble
Who's Kiddin' Zoo
Robot Popeye - Brutus builds a robot double of Popeye
The Wiffle Bird's Revenge - The Whiffle Bird turns Wimpy into a vicious werewolf
In 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 or 2001, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits released most of the 1960s cartoons on its promotional VHS tapes. Each video features one promo for Popeyes showing the footage of its fried chicken, biscuits and other great products before the 1960s series begin, and after the cartoons, two bonus cartoons from the 1960s were featured after the second promo for Popeyes at the end of each tape.
In 2004, Family Home Entertainment released the 4 1960s cartoons on the DVD release of "Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy". The shorts included "Spinach Greetings" (Classic Christmas Episode), "Popeye in the Grand Steeple Chase", "Valley of the Goons", and "William Won't Tell". 85 of the 1960s Popeye cartoons were released on DVD by Koch Vision in a three-disc DVD set entitled Popeye's 75th Anniversary. Warner Archive Collection will re-release the cartoons. The first volume was released on May 7, 2013. Most of the cartoons to be released were produced by Paramount Cartoon Studios, which are included in the first volume.