Originally created 01/17/04

Blow me down!: Popeye character turns 75



LOS ANGELES -- Maybe Popeye owes his longevity to all that vitamin-rich spinach.

The "Ugg, ugg, ugg"-ing cartoon sailorman who gets his superior punching power by guzzling greens from a tin can is celebrating his 75th anniversary Saturday.

King Features Syndicate, which owns the rights to Popeye, is planning a yearlong series of events to relaunch interest in the pipe-tooting mariner with the outsized forearms, including a new 3-D animated TV special written by "Mad About You" comedian Paul Reiser.

That special is set for broadcast next holiday season.

Meanwhile, this weekend in New York City, the Empire State Building plans to shine its tower lights green from sundown to midnight "in honor of Popeye's enormous love of spinach," according to King Features.

Popeye began life in 1929 in the popular "Thimble Theatre" comic strip as a limited story line guest. He graduated to movie shorts, many by the renowned animator Max Fleischer.

Popeye battled everything from sassy goats to the bloated bad-guy Bluto while pursuing the affection of girlfriend Olive Oyl. He even appeared in a video game in the 1980s, collecting falling hearts from his rail-shaped love.

Robin Williams played the bulging-armed character in Robert Altman's 1980 musical movie "Popeye."

On the Net:

http://www.kingfeatures.com