Blatant Product Placement In 1960s ‘Popeye’ Cartoons!
AH, the magnificent Popeye cartoons of the early 1960s!
As all of you know, by the late 1950s, the Popeye theatrical shorts released by Fleischer / Paramount / Famous Studios for the past near-quarter century had been packaged for TV and become a hit with kiddies nationwide.
“More! Give us more!” broadcasters screamed, and King Features Syndicate, owner of the popular sailor, acquiesced.
“You thought them old ones was something? Phphpht! You ain’t seen nothing yet!” read a press release at the time, probably, and with that, 220 additional Popeye cartoons were commissioned and artistically rendered between 1960 and 1962 — each and every one of them a bonafide masterpiece.
Loved by not only Popeye fans everywhere but serious animation aficionados and scholars of all kinds, these 5 minute, 40 second masterpieces have since been lauded by cartoon historians and experts such as Beck, Evanier, Maltin and Amidi* as among the best cartoons ever produced and are, to this day, universally recognized as examples of the animation art form at its highest. All 220 of them have a permanent place in the Library of Congress. (I would assume.)
*Mark Beck, Leonard Evanier, Jerry Maltin and Mark Amidi. Who did you think I was talking about?
Yet, despite all the high praise for what was termed at the time (and ever since) as the cartoons that ushered in “the true Golden Era of Animation,” there was — alas! — a less savory side to them.
Producing over 200 cartoons each with lush animation that rivaled the ‘Night On Bald Mountain’ sequence in Disney’s Fantasia did not come cheap. In order to finance the project, the cost of production had to be subsidized somehow. And that’s when King Features Syndicate quietly lined up potential sponsors to help foot the bill.
Now it can be told: The Popeye cartoons of the early 1960s were rife with product placement.
From “Bazillion Whacks” (1960).
From “Groin With The Wind” (1960).
From “Go Flock Yourself” (1962).
From “Beatnik Off” (1961). [No longer shown on TV today because the word “Mexican” is racist.]
From “Special Edjamakation” (1961).
From “Proctological Liar” (1962).
From “Deep Trout” (1961).
From “Irritable Growl Syndrome” (1960).
From “Urine the Money” (1961).
From “Roofy Goofy” (1960).
From “Danger — Perves Ahead” (1961).
From “Projectile Dysfunction” (1961).
From “Popeye’s Glasgow Smile” (1960).
From “Yeast Inflection” (1962).
From “A Portion Is Murder” (1961).
Oh, think that’s bad? That’s nothin’!
Turns out this stuff is all over the place!
Like, in practically every cartoon! Man, the things you don’t notice when you’re a stupid kid!
I guess the other thing none of us ever realized before is how suggestive some of the titles of the cartoons were. And that many of the double-entendres made no sense 55 years ago.
Okay, let’s end this before my attorney needs some spinach himself — haw!