Popeye and Olive Oyl voice actors fell in love making the cartoon
Their marriage started strong with a spinach breakfast on wedding day, but it ended in heartbreak.
In 1938, the voice actor behind Popeye's love, Olive Oyl, changed when the animation studio went south. Literally. Fleischer Studios relocated from New York to Miami. Mae Questal wasn't willing to make the move with the company to continue voicing the character.
So, Margie Hines stepped into the role. Hines, the original voice of Betty Boop, started regularly voicing Olive Oyl in late December 1938, beginning with the cartoon "Bulldozing the Bull." Almost immediately, sparks started flying between Hines and Popeye voice actor Jack Mercer.
Things between the two got serious fast, and because Popeye and Olive Oyl were so wildly popular, the romance was front-page news when the voice actors announced they got hitched in 1939.
POPEYE, OLIVE OYL HONEYMOON IN MIAMI, the headline declared on the March 10, 1939, edition of The Miami Herald. The article gushed, telling everyone, "Both are good to look upon and have natural speaking voices." You can see Mercer and Hines in the image above. That's Mercer promoting The All-New Popeye in the late 1970s. Hines is acting in a 1933 film short titled Harry Warren: America's Foremost Composer. When you watch it, you can certainly hear Boop and Oyl in her natural voice.
While their hometown honeymoon in Miami was convenient for cartoon production, it meant that there were many fans wanting to join in the celebration of their nuptials. The Herald reported that so many fans showed up at the hotel that "the grizzled old sailor and his blushing bride just never did get any chance to be alone." You can see their wedding announcement photo here.
"Olive Oyl has been my bestest sweetie since I first seen her," Mercer said at the event, speaking in character as Popeye.
"Ain't he courageous?" Hines swooned in response, playing her part as Olive Oyl.
The newlyweds also indulged fans by saying that they ate spinach as their wedding breakfast.
In reality, Hines was 21 and Mercer 24, and both were just embarking on an exciting time in their lives as husband and wife, as well as cartoon soulmates.
Hines continued voicing Olive Oyl across from her husband until 1943, just about five years. Then, the animation studio decided to move back to New York, and Questal reclaimed her role of Olive Oyl.
Although Hines was out of Popeye's world, she remained Mercer's wife until 1950, when the couple divorced.
Not much is known about Hines and Mercer's marriage, because the couple was famously private, but in 1953, Mercer's second wife Virginia suggested his marriage to Hines ended in heartbreak.
"The National Enquirer asked if Jack had ever been married before and he turned white," she said in the book Jack Mercer: The Voice of Popeye. "I explained that it was a painful part of his life."
From records, it seems Hines never remarried, surviving to the age of 101 before passing away in 2011.
Mercer found love again with Virginia, and when Jack and Ginny wed in 1953, the animation studio drew a cartoon of the couple embracing on a cloud, surrounded in hearts. They were still together when Mercer passed away in 1984.
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"Then, the animation studio decided to move back to New York, and Questal reclaimed her role of Olive Oyl."
Mae QUESTEL, with an "e," NOT "a."
Do your homework!
I wish MeTV would get the Filmation cartoons back, and, like the Walter Lantz shorts, those are also syndicated by NBC Universal! Maybe MeTV could negotiate on a package deal with them?