Here’s an interesting Story Behind the Artwork! Did you know that the Popeye character was modeled after a real-life person? So was Olive Oyl. Popeye’s real name was Frank “Rocky” Fiegel.
He was born in 1868 in Poland but immigrated to the United States with his parents, settling in a small town in Illinois. As an adult, Rock joined the merchant marines and began his career on the sea.
When he left the merchant marines, Rocky was hired by Wiebusch’s Tavern in Chester, IL as a bouncer. As a bouncer, he was involved in more than a few fights and that’s how his eye became deformed, thus the nickname Popeye. As a pipe smoker, he talked about of the side of his mouth, another Popeye mannerism.
Elzie Crisler Segar was the creator of Popeye and, grew up in Chester, IL. He met Rocky at the tavern and would sit for hours listening to his amazing stories on the high seas. Segar eventually became a cartoonist and asked Rock if he could model a character after him. Olive Oyl, according to Segar, along with other characters, was also loosely based on an actual person. She was Dora Paskel, owner of a small grocery store in Chester.
Through the years, Segar kept in touch with Rocky and helped him financially, sharing a percentage of his earnings from Popeye. So now you know the story behind the artwork!
Cover image by Richard Mcall from Pixabay
More Stories Behind the Artwork in our blog.