Although The Private Life of Popeye presents Popeye as an orphan, this was later revised in the comics and other media such as the cartoon Goonland (1938), where it is simply stated that he grew up without his father.
Popeye's mother would make her first animated appearance in 1951's Let's Stalk Spinach, in a flashback to Popeye's youth.
The character returned in Goonland's 1952 remake Popeye's Pappy, where she tells her son about Pappy's long-ago departure, upon which Popeye sets sail in search of his father. She can also be seen in a flashback, feeding baby Popeye, in yet another Famous Studios cartoon entitled Lunch with a Punch. In all of these appearances, her voice was provided by Jack Mercer.
Popeye's long-lost mother was introduced in the Thimble Theatre comic strips produced by Tom Sims and Bela Zaboly. She had a remarkably similar-looking face to her son's, albeit in a white bun hairdo. It should be noted that she never appeared in the original comic strip by Segar; this character was reacquainted with Popeye in the 1951 Thimble Theatre storyline "No Stone Unturned" (the same year as her animation debut).
It is also worth noting that her character design was previously used by Sims and Zaboly as "Gramaw Peg", an early version of Popeye's grandmother that was phased out years before their introduction of the sailor's mother.
In the first Popeye Special from Ocean Comics, Popeye's mother Roxy is shown as being married to Poopdeck Pappy, who leaves her for being an irresponsible mother and wife. However, these newer comic specials present their own version and on some occasions, such as this one, contradict the earlier accounts.
Personality and background
When Popeye was a baby, his mother would feed him spinach, in order to make him healthy and strong when he grew up. Her facial features and voice are very similar to that of her son's. Popeye's mother speaks with grammatical mistakes in a way similar to her son and husband.
She possibly had at least one child other than Popeye, who was the mother or father of Pipeye, Peepeye, Poopeye and Pupeye. However, since Poopdeck Pappy claimed that Popeye was his only child in Goonland, it is likely that they did not have any other children and that Popeye's nephews are more distantly related to him.
- A Popeye's Cartoon Club strip reveals that Popeye's unusual facial shape is passed down from father to son, while their wives morph into it after they marry into the family. This explains how the sailor's mother and grandmother ended up sharing the same look.
- "Here ya are son! Eat your spinach and you'll be healthy and strong." (Lunch With a Punch)
- "And, son, when you was a young infant, your Pappy went to buy you some spinach. He ain't never returned." (Popeye's Pappy)