Jack Mercer had to re-audition for the role of Popeye for Hanna-Barbera

"I never thought of doing Popeye any other way. It's just natural to me."

Warner Brothers

Everyone knows the saying "If at first you don't succeed, try again." But what you might not know is that sometimes, even if you do succeed, there's still a small possibility that you will have to try again.

That was the case for Jack Mercer, who performed the voice of everyone's favorite spinach-eating sailor, Popeye, for a number of years. While not the first and last person to voice Popeye, Mercer is perhaps the voice actor most closely associated with the role, and for good reason.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mercer revealed that not only is he responsible for Popeye's voice, but he also helped come up with much of the character's speech and expressions.

"They'd give me dialogue like, 'I have to go to the store,' and I would have to change it, to transpose the thing to the way Popeye spoke: 'I has to goes to the store,' or something like that."

Mercer performed as the character for over twenty years before Hanna-Barbera was given the opportunity to lease the show for their own shorts. Despite Mercer's talent and experience, the new studio actually made him reaudition for the role he had become so well known for.

"I had to audition for the part for Hanna-Barbera," he said. "I was on the phone with the man from Hanna-Barbera, and my wife heard me talking about the audition. She says, 'What? He has to audition for his own voice?'"

The actor passed Hanna-Barbera's test with flying colors, which obviously wasn't surprising for a character whose portrayal was as easy as breathing for a performer like Mercer.

"I feel the character," he said of Popeye. "I never thought of doing Popeye any other way. It's just natural to me."

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10 Comments

Runeshaper 1 month ago
Re-auditioning for an existing role is kind of insulting, I would think? I mean, no arguments to be made if it keeps the paycheck coming in. I'm just glad Mercer was re-awarded the role.
Bapa1 1 month ago
Those HB Popeye cartoons were terrible. I think Popeye and Olive were married and had a son who didn't like spinach.
CoreyC Bapa1 1 month ago
Not as bad as the King Features Syndicate where Brutus replaced Bluto and the animation was terrible.
top_cat_james_1 CoreyC 1 month ago
Nope, the H-B version is worse--At least one saw good ol' cartoon violence in the KFS entries.
top_cat_james_1 Bapa1 1 month ago
That's "Popeye and Son" from 1987. Mercer had died three years earlier.
Bapa1 CoreyC 1 month ago
Those were the worst.
Dario 1 month ago
By the time Jack Mercer did that unnecessary audition for Hanna-Barbera, he had been doing that character for 43-44 years since 1935, not "for over twenty years," as this article states. Once again, who are these dolts at MeTV that come up these annoying inaccuracies?!? 🙄🤦🤨
justjeff Dario 1 month ago
MeTV Dolts! 🤣 Well, blow me down!
McGillahooala Dario 1 month ago
MeTV Dolt sez’g, I yam what I yam.
top_cat_james_1 Dario 1 month ago
Likely the same brain trust that compiles the erroneous factoids on "Toon in with Me".
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