"The Musical 'Popeye' Will Never Be Made!"

Leo Caesius

In the late 70s, Robert Altman arrived on the island of Malta, set to shoot the film Popeye on location. Older members of the forum may remember Popeye as the 1980 musical (and box office flop), based on the comic strip drawn by Elzie Segar, and starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall.

When he arrived in Valletta, he discovered that the airline had misplaced a suitcase of his - a very important suitcase, as it happens. The suitcase was stuffed full of cocaine. He didn't know where it was, but he was very concerned that the airport security would rifle through it when it finally arrived in Valletta. Altman did not relish the thought of going without coke for the indefinite future, before he could score himself another connection, nor did he relish the thought of languishing in some Mediterranean prison hellhole, although it cannot be said which of the two possibilities frightened him more.

Frantic, Altman called up his old buddy, Henry Kissinger, and asks him to give his suitcase diplomatic immunity. Kissinger responds that he simply can't do that, and besides, what would the Libyans think (since independence, and particularly under socialist government, Malta has been Libya's most loyal friend and ally)? Altman responded,

"If you won't do this for me, Hank, the musical Popeye will never be made!"

Apparently, Kissinger's blood was so chilled by the prospect of a world with a Popeye musical that he pulled every string he could to get Altman his suitcase full of coke, safe and secure.

WI Kissinger was not a fan of musicals?


Shelley Duvall is free to replace Carrie Fisher, who opts out of 'The Empire Strikes Back' for fear of typecasting. As the new Princess Leia in this widely seen and challenging vehicle her odd beauty and quirky acting style combine to bring her the attention necessary to catapult her into major stardom.

Carrie Fisher, along with becoming a successful writer, also later makes a series of shorts for children based on classic fairy tales
Perhaps Robin Williams gets another film, that actually does well, with which to pad his early film career.

However, I do have fond memories of that musicial, and still have both the long playing record and the piano score for it. If Popeye ever did make it to the big screen who else would be able to so perfectly personify him?