Saturday, 21 March 2015

He was Popeye?

Jack Mercer was the long-time voice of Popeye in animated cartoons, both for movies and radio. A couple of others played the role but it’s generally conceded that the first voice of Popeye in 1933 was by William Costello.

But here’s a newspaper obit from 1960 that claims otherwise.

This could simply be a case of mangled facts. For example, I’ve found a number of newspaper clippings stating Red Coffee/Coffey was the voice of Huckleberry Hound. Well, he wasn’t. He played a duck who appeared on Yogi Bear cartoons on the Huckleberry Hound Show. Someone simplified the lineage. That may be the case in the story below. The man may have been in a vocal group or was a soloist who sang in Popeye or other Fleischer studio cartoons. Singers tended to lend their voices to characters made in cartoon studios in New York City in the early ‘30s.

And it’s pretty obvious a man never played Betty Boop.
Wallace Clark, Popeye's Film Voice, Dies
OLD LYME, Conn., Aug. 24 (AP)—Wallace Vincent Clark, 63, who was the original cartoon voice of Popeye the Sailor and Betty Boop, died early today at the Veterans Hospital, Rocky Hill.
Cause of death was not given.
CLARK,a native of Middletown, entered vaudeville after World War I naval service. He also was employed for a time by the National Broadcasting Co.
A member of the Debonair quartet, Clark did most of the Popeye and Betty Boop sound tracks himself, calling on other members of the quartet when additional voices were needed. He also was the voice on the old "Bouncing Ball" community sings in motion pictures.
* * *
CLARK retired from vaudeville in 1935 and came to Old Lyme in 1954. He operated a real estate business here.
Clark is survived by his widow, the former Francine Wouters, a son, John Wallace Clark II, and a sister, Mrs. Homer Grandbois of New Haven.
Burial will be tomorrow at the Sacred Heart cemetery, Meriden.
Trying to track Clark involves making some assumptions. Weekly Variety of March 3, 1927 mentions a Wallace Clark forming a vaudeville act with Bernice Mason. The trade paper has a Wallace Clark Co. on bills starting in 1917; he was working the Orpheum circuit on the West Coast in 1920 and touring Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Clark definitely appeared on radio. He had his own 20-minute evening programme of “hits, old and new” on WLWL in New York (a station connected to the Catholic Church) in 1930. There was also a Wallace Clark who appeared in the 1932 Paramount feature “Madame Butterfly” and the 1933 Universal film “Private Jones” (neither of which included singing), but whether it’s the same man, I don’t know.

1 comment:

  1. Eric O. Costello22 March 2015 at 17:42

    For what it's worth, I did some digging on I found a Wallace Vincent Clark who was born on November 22, 1896 in Middletown, CT. As of June, 1918, according to his draft registration card, he was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. I found him in the 1930 census, living in New York City, occupation listed as "radio singer." No other data was immediately available.