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J. Wellington Wimpy, generally referred to as Wimpy, is one of the characters in the long-running comic strip Popeye, created by E. C. Segar and originally called Thimble Theatre, and in the Popeye cartoons based upon the strip. Wimpy was one of the dominant characters in the newspaper strip, but when Popeye was adapted as an animated cartoon series by Fleischer Studios, Wimpy became a more minor character; Dave Fleischer said that the character in the Segar strip was "too intellectual" to be used in film cartoons. Wimpy did appear in Robert Altman's 1980 live-action musical film Popeye, played by veteran character actor Paul Dooley.

The character in most of his manifestations is soft-spoken and generally cowardly, or a "wimp", hence his name. According to fellow cartoonist, Bill Mauldin, the name was suggested by that of Wellington J. Reynolds, one of Segar's instructors at the Chicago Art Institutemarker. His personality was based upon that of William Schuchert, the manager of the Chester Opera House where Segar was first employed. "Windy Bill", as he was known, was a pleasant, friendly man, fond of tall tales and hamburgers.

During World War II, "Wimpy", in reference to the character, was the nickname given to the Vickers Wellington bomber. Wimpy was also the inspiration and name of a large chain of hamburger restaurants which began in the United States but was most successful when licensed for the UK.

Character

Wimpy is Popeye's friend. In the cartoons he mainly plays the role of the "straight man" to Popeye's outbursts and wild antics. Wimpy is very intelligent, and well educated, but also very lazy, overly parsimonious and utterly gluttonous. He is also something of a scam artist and, especially in the newspaper strip, can be notoriously underhanded at times.

Wimpy loves to eat hamburgers, and is usually seen carrying or eating one or more at a time – e.g. in Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor he is seen grinding meat or eating burgers almost the entire time – however, he is usually too cheap to pay for them himself. A recurring joke involves Wimpy's attempts to con other patrons of the diner into buying his meal for him. His best-known catchphrase started in 1931 as "Cook me up a hamburger. I'll pay you Thursday." In 1932, this then became the famous "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". This phrase is now commonly used to illustrate fiscal irresponsibility and still appears in modern comedies such as The Drew Carey Show and The Office. Robert Altman's live-action film, Popeye was criticised for failing to use the phrase in a similarly memorable and iconic way.

Wimpy had other frequently used lines in the original comic strip. On some occasions, Wimpy tries to placate someone by saying "I'd like to invite you over to my house for a duck dinner." He then moves away quickly to a safe distance and yells, "You bring the ducks!" Another such line was, "Jones is my name...I'm one of the Jones boys" — an attempt to defuse a hostile situation with a mistaken identity. To deflect an enemy's wrath, he would sometimes indicate a third party and say "Let's you and him fight", starting a brawl from which he quickly withdrew.

In popular culture

  • Wimpy made two appearances in the animated sketch comedy program Robot Chicken.
    • In the episode "The Sack", Wimpy, voiced by Scott Adsit, is shown what the world would be like if he never existed, in a parody of It's a Wonderful Life. It turns out that the world would indeed be much better without him.
    • In the episode "Yancy the Yo-Yo Boy", a hamburger addicted Wimpy, voiced by Seth Green, faces violent retribution from Popeye after he is unable to "pay him Tuesday for a hamburger today". Wimpy then has to rely on sexual favors to save himself.
  • Wimpy makes an appearance in the Family Guy episode "McStroke", after Peter Griffin has a stroke from eating dozens of hamburgers.
  • Wimpy was featured in Alton Brown's Good Eats episode "A Grind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" (Season 2 Episode 8), which featured recipes for hamburgers and meatloaf.
  • The character also appeared in a commercial for the Carl's Jr fast-food hamburger chain.
  • In the Homestar Runner Halloween special "The House That Gave Sucky Treats", the secretly unlocked character Homsar dresses up as Wimpy, even uttering the phrase "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for some candy today!"


See also



Notes

  1. In Italian, Wimpy is known as "Poldo Sbaffini"; his surname is a reference to his scrounging habits. In Spanish, Wimpy is "Pilón", Spanish for "pestle", which may refer to the character's body shape. In Sweden Wimpy is called Frasse and, unlike in the American version where he eats hamburgers, he instead eats parisare, a similar Swedish dish.
  2. Bill Mauldin, The Brass Ring, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1972


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