Apparently, Gus Wickie, the original voice of Bluto died at about the time producer Max Fleischer moved his studio from New York to Miami, and the role of Bluto was downplayed until a replacement voice could be found.
Enter Pinto Colvig, best known as the voice of Goofy, to step into the role. According to the Walt Disney Treasures Goofy DVD collection, Colvig had left Disney and had moved over to Fleischer. I’d never realized that he’d taken over Bluto, but knew that there was a brief period where I really enjoyed the vocal performance of the bearded heavy.
In short, he is fun to watch, and he is fun to listen to! You will hear the difference immediately. And, hear it you will in…
“Fightin’ Pals”: The ultimate in playing with the Popeye and Bluto formula! Bluto is off on an expedition to Africa. Popeye sees him off. They fight – almost playfully (!) on the dock, and Bluto departs. As time passes, Popeye grows to MISS Bluto and the great brawls they’ve had together. Then a radio bulletin declares that the big guy has been reported LOST in Darkest Africa! Popeye is off to save his “pal”!
Oh, and to the great credit of Max and Dave Fleischer, Popeye encounters ONLY wild animals on his rescue mission – and no stereotypical African natives! This certainly bucked the trend in animation of the time.
“Fightin’ Pals” just may be my favorite POPEYE cartoon of all time! It’s certainly in consideration for “Top Three”, along with “A Dream Walking” (1934) and “The Mighty Navy” (1941).
This is the way I’D like to picture Popeye and Bluto forevermore. Not eternally trapped in the repetitive “love triangle” with Olive Oyl that would later play itself to death in every possible venue except those that would allow Popeye to be a… um, you know… sailor.
So, let’s enjoy Jack Mercer as Popeye and Pinto Colvig as Bluto in Max Fleischer and writer Joseph E. Stultz’s “Fightin’ Pals”! Enjoy… Toot! Toot!