Olive Oyl made her show biz debut on Dec. 20, 1919 as the star of Elzie Crisler Segar’s popular comic strip, “Thimble Theatre,” later re-titled ,”Popeye.” During her career as the First Lady of Cartoons, Olive has appeared in nearly 25,000 comic strips, more than 750 animated cartoons and countless comic books published all over the world. Her fame is international: In Spain, she is known as Rosario, in Sweden as Olivia and in Finland as Olga.
In the 1930s, she was a radio star with several recordings to her credit. While her singing voice won the admiration of her fans, the music critics were not impressed. It was songs such as “What Makes Me So Beautiful?” that inspired one critic to label her, “The Terror of the High C’s.”
Olive has always done her own stunt work, surviving being thrown off cliffs and out of windows, plunging over giant waterfalls, being lost at sea, being buried alive, and tied up on the tracks in the path of countless numbers of speeding trains. Her scripts have demanded versatility and she has played drama with the same intensity as she has played comedy.
In 1980, Paramount Pictures released a live-action musical motion picture in which Olive Oyl was played by Shelley Duvall and Popeye portrayed by Robin Williams. The movie has become a cult classic.
In 1982, Olive Oyl achieved a “first” for women by breaking the barrier and taking huge strides (literally) as a 75-foot-tall balloon in the annual Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Olive was the first female character to float down Broadway in the 55-year history of the event.
Olive was the muse and inspiration for Italian designer Moschino and she has been featured on his fragrance and fashion accessories for more than a decade.
After her adventures, Olive is probably best known for her romances. Her most ardent and regular suitor is Bluto, Popeye’s archenemy. Olive, who once philosophized, “A girl has the right to change her mind, doesn’t she?” has often chosen to be Bluto’s sweet patootie rather than the mighty mariner’s, if only to irritate Popeye. Truly, her union with Popeye – following a rocky and somewhat bellicose beginning – made them legendary lovers in their own time. And, confirming their iconic status just before Valentine’s Day in 1996, People Magazine named Olive Oyl and her one-eyed Sailor Man as one of the Greatest Love Stories of the 20th Century.
Throughout her extraordinary career, Olive has been sweetheart and sailor, fighter and flirt, dancer and diva. One thing is for certain: Olive Oyl always has been and always will be an individualist and her own woman.