For the English cricketer, see Jack Mercer (cricketer).

Jack Mercer (13 January 1910 – 4 December 1984) was an American animator, storyman and voice actor. He is best known as the voice of cartoon character Popeye.


He was born on 13 January 1910.

Mercer began his work in cartoons as an "inbetweener", an apprentice animator at Fleischer Studios. Mercer liked to imitate voices,[1] including one close call where he mimicked the high-pitched and loud voice of one of the Fleischer's wives after he mistakenly thought she had left the studio.

When Billy Costello, the original cartoon voice of Popeye (1933-35), became difficult to work with, he was dismissed. Mercer had begun imitating Costello's interpretation of Popeye, and practiced it until his voiced "cracked" just right and he had it down. Searching for a replacement for Costello, Lou Fleischer heard Mercer singing the Popeye song and gave him the job of doing the Popeye voice. Mercer's first cartoon was "King of the Mardi Gras" (1935).

Mercer continued to voice the one-eyed sailor for the Fleischers, for Paramount's Famous Studios cartoons (1942-57), for a series of television cartoons for King Features Syndicate, and for a Saturday morning cartoon show (1978), produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Mercer also did other cartoon voices, including all the voices for a series of Felix the Cat cartoons produced in 1959-60. Mercer also did the voices of Wimpy, Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye's nephews, King Little in Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels (1939), and a number of voices for Fleischer's Mister Bug Goes to Town (1941). Mercer's natural voice was relatively high-pitched for a man, and he was able to do some of the female voices as well.

Mercer also wrote hundreds of scripts for various cartoon series, including a number of "Popeye" episodes, animated cartoons produced for Paramount Pictures, Deputy Dawg and Milton the Monster.

Originally a resident of New York City, Mercer moved to Miami, Florida when Fleischer Studios relocated there in 1938. When Famous Studios took over the Popeye cartoons, Mercer moved back to New York by early 1944. In the late 1970s he lived briefly in Los Angeles, but moved to Queens, New York, where he died in 1984.[2] After his death, Maurice LaMarche and Jim Cummings continued performing the voice of Popeye.


Mercer's first wife was Margie Hines, who provided the voice of Olive Oyl from 1939 to 1944.[3]


  1. As noted in an interview made around 1975, included on the DVD set Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940, Volume 2
  2. New York Times Obituary, 9 December 1984. Last retrieved 12 March 2007.
  3. Milestone column. Time Magazine March 20, 1939

External links

no:Jack Mercer

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