Popeye Day

Popeye Day is a holiday observed annually on January 17th. This day commemorates the fictional cartoon character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, who debuted on this date in 1929.

Although he wasn’t the central character in his debut, his popularity quickly skyrocketed, and he soon became a cultural icon. Over the past nine-plus decades, Popeye has appeared in countless comic books, television cartoons, video games, and advertisements.

He is so popular that he even made TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time list, appearing at number 20. So, it should be no surprise that he has now earned his own holiday.

The History of Popeye Day

On January 17th, 1929, the character Popeye first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip called “Thimble Theatre.” This comic strip was in its tenth year when Popeye first appeared, but the one-eyed sailor quickly became the main star of the strip.

During the 1930s, the strip became one of the most popular King Features properties. When Elzie Crisler Segar died in 1938, “Thimble Theatre” was continued by several different artists and writers, including Segar’s assistant Bud Sagendorf.

In 1933, “Thimble Theatre” characters were also adapted into the series “Popeye the Sailor.” These were theatrical cartoon shorts created for Paramount Pictures. Production of these cartoon shorts continued through World War II, where they were used as a vehicle for Allied propaganda. These cartoons continued to be made throughout the 1950s. Popeye has since become an iconic character that has appeared in various forms of media over the years.

Quick Facts About Popeye the Sailor

Let’s take a look at a few facts we’ve discovered about Popeye the Sailor and other characters from the comic strip and cartoons.

  • A 900-pound statue of Popeye stands in Elzie C. Segar Memorial Park in Chester, Illinois.
  • In Chester, Illinois, there is a Popeye’s Picnic event held the weekend following Labor Day in September.
  • Many of the characters, including Popeye, were modeled after real people who lived in Chester, Illinois.

Observing Popeye Day

Anyone wishing to observe this holiday can do so by enjoying Popeye in one of the forms of media in which he appears. Perhaps you can enjoy him in the 1980 movie “Popeye,” starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, or maybe in one of the cartoons he has appeared in. And people can always enjoy what Popeye was always munching on: a can of spinach.

People can visit Chester, Illinois, to follow “The Popeye and Friends Character Trail,” which includes statues dedicated to many of the characters from the Popeye comic strip and cartoon. In 1977, a Popeye statue was added, and in 2006, a J. Wellington Wimpy statue was added. Every year since then, a new statue has been added, with Ham Gravy added in 2021. As of 2022, funds were being raised to add an Oscar statue to Chester.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 17 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
January 17 Friday
Last year (2023)
January 17 Tuesday
Art & Entertainment