Thats according to Out Of The Inkwell (University Of Kentucky Press), a biography about Popeye animator Max Fleischer written by his son, director Richard Fleischer.
Fleischer says Popeye was originally a character featured in the comic strip, Thimble Theater, who got his strength by rubbing a magic whiffle hen.
But when Popeye was adapted for film, Fleischer chose to have the sailor eat spinach instead of rubbing a chicken a decision that not only affected the character but caused sales of the leafy green vegetable to skyrocket.
Although Popeye has a macho image, it wasnt always that way. In his first ever film appearance, a 1933 Betty Boop cartoon, he wore a corset and performed a sexy hula dance.
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