Thursday, 9 May 2013

Popeye and the Peacock

A peacock was featured prominently on NBC when I was a kid, so that may be the reason I remember seeing a peacock gag in one of the old Fleischer Popeyes way back then.

The bird appears in the Popeye debut cartoon in 1933. The peacock’s feathers block the entrance to a circus. You put a coin in the peacock’s mouth and it pulls in its feathers like a fan to let someone in.

Bluto comes along and decides to get around paying by blowing the feathers off the bird, leaving it like a denuded Christmas tree.

William Pennell is the voice of Bluto and sings a lyrically-modified version of the hit song from 1900 “Strike Up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor)” by Charles B. Ward and Andrew B. Sterling over the opening credits. You can read the original lyrics HERE.

Seymour Kneitel and Doc Crandall get the animation credits.

It’s kind of a shame a peacock is in black-and-white but that’s all I could see on my TV when I was a kid anyway. NBC’s “Living Color” peacock ended up being various shades of grey, too.


  1. "The following program is brought to you by the living colors of NBC."

  2. The first cartoon where Olive sounds like Olive as Mae Questel would define her, and the last cartoon where Popeye, Olive and Bluto would interact with the same kind of "funny animal" humans as the Fleischers used in the Betty Boop and Screen Songs series (Popeye would go on to battle with a number of animal opponents starting in around 1941, but outside of "The Hungry Goat" they were really 'animal' animals that were not part of the human world. But I'm not quite sure where the peacock falls here -- it's doing a human thing of charging admission, but it's also kind of locked in place as a feathered turnstile before Bluto exhales).

  3. Interesting comparison! I find it interesting that William Pennell did the original gruff Bluto voice, but other early Fleischer cartoons have Gus Wickie supposedly voicing characters. However, Pennell's voice could be extremely similar to Wickie's at times, even to the point both actors could be voicing two different characters in the same picture! [this did happen at times] "Tree Saps" and "Silly Scandals" from the Talkartoons series might be good examples where Wickie and Pennell both appear...

    Pennell is later identified as voicing Bluto in a few of the 1940s Popeyes, and it's either Pennell or Tedd Pierce voicing Popeye in "Stealin' Ain't Honest" and "Many Tanks" [most likely Pierce], Pennell in "A Hull of a Mess" and "Too Weak to Work", and Pennell or Dave Barry in "Kickin' the Conga 'round" and "Alona on the Sarong Seas", with Barry voicing Bluto in "Seein' Red, White, and Blue" and "We're on Our Way to Rio".

    Sadly, not much info is available on Pennell whatsoever, very little on Wickie, and no photo of Barry that I can find [though he did stand-up comedy and other voices, so he's not totally obscure, and Pierce did a lot of story writing for Warner Bros. plus some voices...