Children’s Show (1935-1937)
Gravel-voiced Popeye made the leap from cartoons to radio in the fall of 1935. It followed one of the most popular shows of the day, Amos and Andy. Popeye the Sailor featured stories of fights, hamburger feasts, belly laughs and romance with Popeye, Jeep, bullyman Bluto, big eater Wimpy, Swee’Pea and Popeye’s sweetheart, Olive Oyl. It had rough beginnings, however. The shows producers had a difficult time finding the right voice for the part. They interviewed the entire gamut of carnival barkers on Coney Island until they found their perfect barking baritone, Det Poppen.
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Wheatena sponsored the show, which called for a change in the magic that made Popeye’s “mus-kles” balloon – rather than spinach, it was Wheatena. Like other children’s shows, Wheatena also offered mail-in premiums: kids could mail in Wheatena boxtops for enamel lapel pins of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy. So throw away your spinach and grab a box of Wheatena. Popeye did: “Wheatena’s me diet. I ax ya to try it. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man (toot, toot)!”