Bluto (at left) in I'm in the Army Now (1936)
E. C. Segar
Paul L. Smith (Live-action film)
Alec Baldwin (animated film)
Bluto (also known as Brutus) is a cartoon and comics character created in 1932 by Elzie Crisler Segar as a one-time character, named "Bluto the Terrible", in his Thimble Theatre comic strip (later renamed Popeye). Bluto made his first appearance September 12 of that year. Fleischer Studios adapted him the next year (1933), to be the recurring villain in their theatrical Popeye animated cartoon series.
Bluto is Popeye's nemesis; he, like Popeye, is attracted to Olive Oyl, and usually attempts to kidnap her. However, with the help of some spinach, Popeye usually ends up defeating him.
There are considerable inconsistencies with regards to how strong Bluto actually is. In some episodes he is weaker than Popeye, usually resorting to underhanded trickery to win. Other times Popeye stands no chance until he eats his spinach. Other times he and Popeye are evenly matched with Bluto eventually winning, as in the episode, We Aim to Please. And other times he is a match for Popeye even after he has eaten his spinach, as in the episode "Pleased to Meet Cha".
It is generally consistent that Bluto is not highly intelligent, generally acting without thinking and utilizing brute force, which often signals his defeat at the hands of Popeye. On rare occasions Bluto tries to sabotage Popeye before engaging in plans, such as when he tried to thwart a foreseeable fight by using a forklift to steal Popeye's store of spinach cans, then laughing as he disposes of them in a garbage dump (which had a convenient sign reading "Dump Spinach Here").
Bluto is often portrayed as having a glass jaw. He has, on occasion, been knocked out by Olive Oyl and even by Popeye's infant ward Swee'Pea. Bluto is a large, bearded, muscle-bound fellow. He mostly uses his physical brawn to accomplish what he is trying to do, but does display some ability for tactical planning. His voice is a very loud, harsh and deep one, with a bear-like growl between sentences or between words in sentences, and which growling contains words that often can't be comprehended. Dave Fleischer wanted Bluto's voice to resemble that of the character Red Flack in 1930's "The Big Trail," played by Tyrone Power Sr.
In most cases, the name "Bluto" is used as an apparent first name. In cartoons where Bluto portrays alternate characters, or "roles," the name can be used as a surname, as with lumberjack "Pierre Bluto" in the Popeye cartoon Axe Me Another (1934) and etiquette teacher "Professor Bluteau" in Learn Polikeness (1938).
In Italian-produced Popeye comic books, Bluto is sometimes identified as the Sea Hag's son.
After the theatrical Popeye cartoon series went out of production in 1957, Bluto's name was changed to Brutus because it was (wrongly) believed that Paramount Pictures, distributors of the Fleischer Studios (later Famous Studios) cartoons, owned the rights to the name Bluto. King Features actually owned the name all along, as Bluto had been originally created for the comic strip, but due to poor research, they failed to realize this thus and re-made him as Brutus to avoid copyright problems. "Brutus" (often pronounced "Brutusk" by Popeye) appears in the 1960–1962 Popeye television cartoons (with his physical appearance changed, making him morbidly obese rather than muscular), but he is again "Bluto" (and back to his original muscular physique) in the 1978 Hanna-Barbera Popeye series and the 1980 live-action Popeye movie, as well as the 1987 Popeye and Son series also by Hanna-Barbera. The character was also named Bluto in the 2004 movie Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy.
Brutus was the name Nintendo used for their arcade game based on the property.
Another subtle difference between the characters of Brutus and Bluto is that while Bluto was often portrayed as a fellow sailor who also sought to win the heart of Olive Oyl, Brutus was portrayed as a generic villain, or bank robber, who showed no romantic interest in Olive. Instead, he usually took her hostage, leaving Popeye to rescue her.
Prior to the name change to Brutus, the bearded strongman was known as "The Big Guy That Hates Popeye," "Junior," "Mean Man," and "Sonny Boy" in the comic strip and comic books. The name "Brutus" was first used on Popeye-related products in 1960 and in print in 1962. It is generally accepted that Bluto and Brutus are one and the same. However, a 1980s Ocean Comics Popeye comic book miniseries presented the two characters as twin brothers.
Bobby London, who did the Popeye daily strip for six years, wrote and illustrated the "Return of Bluto" story where the 1932 version of Bluto returns and discovers a number of fat, bearded bullies have taken his place, calling themselves "Brutus" (each one being a different version of Popeye's rival). On December 28, 2008 and April 5, 2009, the Popeye comic strip added Bluto in the capacity of twin brother of Brutus.
In all Spanish-speaking countries, in Brazil and in the Philippines, the character is mostly known as "Brutus". His name, in Italian, has been translated as "Bruto" or, occasionally, as "Timoteo" (Timothy). In French, it has also been translated alternatively as "Brutus" or "Timothée".
In the Paramount theatrical cartoons, Bluto was voiced by a number of actors, including William Pennell, Pat Cassotta, Gus Wickie, Billy Bletcher, Pinto Colvig, and, most notably, Jackson Beck, who took over the role in 1944. Beck also supplied the voice for Brutus in the early 1960s. In the 1980 live-action movie, he was portrayed by Paul L. Smith. In The All-New Popeye Hour and Popeye and Son, he was voiced by Allan Melvin.
In the animated cartoons, Popeye's foe is almost always Bluto, functioning in some capacity—fellow sailor, generic thug, carnival hypnotist, sheik, lecherous instructor, etc. However, in the Famous era shorts there have also been "original" one-time characters with Bluto-like personalities and mannerisms such as the blond, beardless lifeguard in "Beach Peach." Jackson Beck also voiced these characters using the same voice.
- Ian. "Retrieved on April 27, 2009". Straightdope.com. http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mpopeye.html. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
- Fortier, Ron (w), Dunn, Ben, Grummett, Tom, Kato, Gary (p), Barras, Dell (i). "Double Trouble Down Under" Popeye Special 2 (September 1988), Ocean Comics
- Dec. 28, 2008 Popeye Cartoon, Retrieved July 14, 2009.
- April 5, 2009 Popeye Cartoon, Retrieved July 14, 2009.
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- Popeye at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
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