The spinach-powered Popeye has been a pop culture staple since 1929, the star of several hundred comic strips, theatrical shorts, and his own radio and television shows. 1978 marked the beginning of a new era for the squinty-eyed sailor, returning to the small screen in The All New Popeye Hour.
This series was broken up into different segments: The Adventures of Popeye, Popeye’s Treasure Hunt, Popeye’s Sports Parade, and Dinky Dog. The latter segment starred a huge mutt and had little or nothing to do with Popeye or any sort of maritime activity.
Because of the changing times, these episodes featured less fighting and more trickery on the part of Popeye’s nemesis, who was back to being called Bluto after his mysterious name-switching run as “Brutus.” Each episode also featured a public service portion, in which the spinach-eating swabby would educate his nephews Peepeye, Pupeye, and Pipeye on topics such as home safety or sensible dieting. In one such segment, Popeye explained what a bad habit smoking was, and how he only used his pipe for “tooting” at the end of his theme song.
In 1980, the series was shortened to a half-hour and rechristened The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show. Two new segments were added: Prehistoric Popeye, which showed us a Cro-Magnon version of the sailor eating Jurassic spinach, and Private Olive Oyl, which chronicled the adventures of Olive and Alice the Goon as privates in the Army.
CBS decided to retire the beloved boatman in 1983. Popeye returned to Saturday morning once more, in 1987’s Popeye and Son, which lasted only one season. It would be unfair to say, however, that Popeye passed out of the limelight, since his presence is still felt today in cartoon reruns, continued merchandising, and even a fast food restaurant chain. “Strong to the finish,” indeed.
USA / CBS – Hanna-Barbera / x20 minute episodes / 9 September 1978 – 10 September 1983
Jack Mercer as Popeye
Marilyn Schreffler as Olive Oyl
Allan Melvin as Bluto
Daws Butler as Wimpy
Marilyn Schreffler as The Evil Sea Hag
Joanne Worley as Sgt. Blast
Hal Smith as Col. Crumb
Frank Welker as Dinky
Frank Nelson as Uncle Dudley
Julie Bennett as Monica
Jackie Joseph as Sandy