Popeye the Sailorpedia

Shorty is a character introduced in early Famous Studios animated cartoons in 1943. He is Popeye's short, bespectacled Navy fellow.

An individual prone to cause mischief and annoy others, he is paired with Popeye in comic everyday situations both aboard the Navy ship and on shore leave, leaving Popeye in the role of "straight-man". The character appeared in only three shorts: Happy Birthdaze, The Marry-Go-Round and Moving Aweigh. He has not been seen since.

Character history

Happy Birthdaze

Shorty's debut

While on shore leave, Popeye notices one of his fellow sailors, Shorty, saddened by the fact that he hasn't received any love letters like the others on the U.S. Navy battleship. Before he can blow his brains out with a gun, Popeye stops him and invites him to his birthday party at Olive's home. Olive greets them both upon arrival.

Shortly after, Shorty uses the bathroom, causing a flood that washes Popeye out to the street where he is hit by a car. Popeye returns, trying his best to calm down, but Shorty's eagerness to help Olive bake the cake ends ups causing Popeye to break eggs, pans and all cake-making items. After some more mishaps, Popeye goes to the bathroom to clean himself, but Shorty has once again caused a flood that drags him out to the street.

Meanwhile, the saddened Shorty laments his spoiling Popeye's party and tries to kill himself again, but is stopped by Olive. When Popeye comes back ready to beat Shorty with a baseball bat, Shorty is happy to "play games" with him, not only baseball but golf and hockey, inevitably dealing further abuse upon the one-eyed sailor. After a hole is left on the wooden floor due to the ice skating, Popeye kicks Shorty in but then covers it so Olive does not see it, yet when the latter comes rushing in after finishing the cake, she falls all the way down her apartment building and to the boiler room below. Popeye runs down to find her (and Shorty) inside an unused furnace, with Olive leaving both of them inside as she tells Popeye never to see her again, going back up and throwing the cake down the hole to smash on top of Popeye's head inside the furnace.

Overjoyed, Shorty blows out the only lit candle and starts singing "Happy Birthday to my pal", but suddenly a gunshot goes off in the dark, interrupting Shorty's song and ending the short on a title card saying "The Bitter End".

The Marry-Go-Round

Shorty and Popeye in The Marry-Go-Round

Shorty returns in The Marry-Go-Round, appearing as Popeye's roommate aboard a Navy ship's bunk, looking at photos of Dorothy Lamour (one of which is signed by her for him). Shorty is cleaning up the room after the sailors are ordered to disembark for shore leave and overhears Popeye not having the courage to propose to Olive Oyl, and decides to help him.

He rehearses with Popeye how the engagement will go and drags him to Olive's house. Once Olive opens the door, the sailor's bashfulness causes the wedding ring to be placed on Olive's nose and Miss Oyl believes he is playing pranks on her. Popeye enters the house but becomes trapped among Olive's endless boarding house chores, most often into a washing machine.

Shorty helps him recover each time, but Olive only grows annoyed at the would-be-groom's clumsy antics. Shorty decides to give a demonstration on how to woo a lady, which he performs with great efficacy on Olive, even ending with a kiss, unintentional on Shorty's part as he doesn't find her attractive. Electrified by this, the infatuated Miss Oyl quickly changes into a provocative outfit and begins chasing after Shorty, while Popeye also tries to get his hands on his "traitorous" companion. After he catches him, angry at Olive's flirtiness and her violence towards him during the chase, Popeye puts her into the washing machine and leaves. Back in their bunk, Popeye has Shorty tied up and has forcibly switched his own Olive photos with Shorty's pictures of Dorothy Lamour, to Shorty's dismay.

Moving Aweigh

The short begins with Shorty and Popeye walking down the gangway into the pier. Shorty thanks Popeye for taking him to watch a movie, until a mailman gives Popeye his mail from Olive Oyl, telling him that she needs his help as she's moving out. Popeye apologizes to Shorty since they can't go to the theater anymore but Shorty is happy to help Popeye in this task, to which Popeye commends Shorty on being "a real pal".

As they get there with a van, things only go from bad to worse once incidents start occurring, specifically surrounding a lawman whose vehicle (and himself) keeps getting damaged over the course of the short due to Olive Oyl's things being dropped directly on top of the lawman, even Popeye's van.

This eventually results in Shorty, Popeye and Olive Oyl ending up in a jail cell, which the three remodel into their new home. Shorty places a sign on the wall saying "Home Sweet Home".


Happy Birthdaze

The Marry-Go-Round


Arnold Stang

  • Shorty is in fact a caricature of popular 1940s-era comic actor Arnold Stang (1918-2009). While some believe Stang voiced him in all the shorts, he actually only voiced him in Moving Aweigh, while in his first two appearances, he was voiced by Jack Mercer, who also voiced Popeye.
    • In Happy Birthdaze, Popeye also says that he resembles two other well-known figures from that era: Bob Hope and Bing Cosby. The former Shorty got mad about, but felt flattered when being compared with the latter.
  • The reason as to why Shorty sung a variation of "Happy Birthday" to the tune of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" was due to copyright issues surrounding the former song.

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