Castor Oyl: The story of Popeye's kooky brother-in-law

Olive Oyl's brother was weird until he wasn't.

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Every family has its black sheep. Whether it's your Pinot Grigio aunt or a sister who's a little bit too into Tom Jones; Families aren't full unless they have that one outlier. If nothing else, they're there to make the rest of us feel like we might be normal.

In Olive Oyl's family, the black sheep is her older brother Castor. 

Castor Oyl was introduced to the world in the January 14th, 1920 edition of the Thimble Theater comic strip. He was the creation of Elzie Crisler Segar, who also created Popeye. 

Initially, Castor played a very minor role in the Thimble Theater/Popeye comic strips. The character was defined by his bizarre antics, frequently behaving in ways that contradicted what had already been established. While the media has since become warier of these kinds of flippant diagnoses, other characters at the time frequently alleged that Castor's conduct was the result of his insanity.

There are only so many stories a creator can tell with a character they've defined as "crazy." There aren't too many possible character arcs for someone who behaves so unpredictably. So, as the series evolved into more of a serialized comedy-adventure strip, so too did Castor Oyl develop new personality traits.

Throughout the late '20s, Castor Oyl grew into more of an "everyman" role. His newly-adapted entrepreneurial spirit became the focus of a few stories. The writers and artists had a newer, more clearly-defined player to work with. As such, Castor Oyl became more prominent in Popeye's adventures. So much so that eventually, more characters were introduced as foils (foyls?) to play off of Castor. His wife was launched into the strip, utilizing the thematically appropriate name Cylinda Oyl.

While these new personality traits gave Segar more to hang his hat on, Castor all but disappeared from the comic strip by 1931. After that, he played next to no role in the theatrically released cartoon shorts. His most prominent performance was as a woodwind player in Popeye's orchestra in The Spinach Overture.

Castor fans will be happy to learn that the character was revived for Robert Altman's 1980 Popeye film. The syndicated Popeye comic strip is currently helmed by R. K. Milholland, who reintroduced Castor, Cylinda, and their daughter Deezil in 2022.

Editor's Note: Popeye and Olive Oyl were on-again, off-again boyfriend/girlfriend in the Fleischer Studios shorts. However, the pair are married by the time of the sequel series Popeye and Son. Therefore, it's both less cumbersome and factually accurate to refer to Castor Oyl as Popeye's brother-in-law.

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16 Comments

Willalexmac 3 months ago
Never saw Castor Oyl in a Popeye cartoon. Never even heard of him until that awful live action musical movie by Robert Altman in late 1980. Hats off to Robin Williams.
bru 7 months ago
Liked Whimpy; trade you a hamburger today...
bre003 7 months ago
Too bad animation is so expensive these days. I'd like to see a new series based on the old strips, Cup Head style.
JHP 7 months ago
I love Popeye cartoons - that's what got me to fall in love with canned spinach

A little butter; some salt - cayenne pepper and YUM!
Runeshaper 7 months ago
Thanks for sharing, MeTV! I remember watching Popeye eat his spinach as a kid. I wanted to grow up strong like him and I still eat my spinach! lol Love the Robin Williams Popeye movie too!
Andybandit 8 months ago
I never knew Olive Oil had a brother.
LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Always found humor in the various play on words they created for the characters on Popeye.
" Castor, Cylinda and later Deezil." Too funny.
dougandandyfan 8 months ago
Popeye had a sailor friend named
SHORTY who did not last long in the
Popeye cartoons. Shorty was like
Chuck Cunningham on HAPPY Days
The VANISHING Guys.
justjeff 8 months ago
Man, the MeTV writers sure covered their butts by the end of this article... I was going to point out that Popeye and Olive were *never* married in the classic cartoons... Good save, MeTV!
LoveMETV22 justjeff 8 months ago
In recognition of their butt covering, we should get them all a hamburger. We can put it on
Wimpy's tab. LOL! 🍔🍔🍔🍔
JHP LoveMETV22 7 months ago
and tomorrows tuesday:)
LoveMETV22 JHP 7 months ago
LOL. We'll have them deliver today, and bill Wimpy tomorrow.
JHP LoveMETV22 7 months ago
just a comment - wouldnt feed my pooch white castle:)
forthekids JHP 7 months ago
I agree with you..JHP..I wouldn't eat White Castle Burgers..either.
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