Jack Mercer (January 13, 1910 – December 4, 1984) was an American animator, storyman and voice actor. He is best known as the voice of cartoon characters Popeye the Sailorman and Felix the Cat. The child of vaudeville and Broadway, he also performed on the vaudeville and legitimate stage. When William Billy Costello, the original cartoon voice of Popeye (1933–1935), became difficult to work with, he was dismissed. Mercer had begun imitating Costello's interpretation of Popeye, and practiced it until his voice "cracked" just right and he had it down. Searching for a replacement for Costello, Lou Fleischer heard Mercer singing the Popeye song and gave him the job of doing the Popeye voice. Mercer's first cartoon was 1935's King of the Mardi Gras. Mercer continued to voice the one-eyed sailor for the Fleischers, for Paramount's Famous Studios cartoons (1942–1957), for a series of television cartoons for King Features Syndicate, and for a Saturday morning cartoon show (1978) produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Mercer also did other cartoon voices, including all the voices for a series of Felix the Cat cartoons produced in 1959-1960. Mercer also did the voices of Wimpy, Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye's nephews, King Little, Twinkletoes the Carrier Pigeon, and the bumbling spies Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch in Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels, and a number of voices, including Mr. Bumble and Swat (the Fly) for Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Mercer's natural voice was relatively high-pitched for a man, and he was able to do some of the female voices as well.
- George Tucker: "Jack, are you married?" Jack Mercer: "Sure, I'm married to Olive Oyl."
Characters voiced by Jack Mercer
- Harry Horse
- Grampy (???)
- Wiffle Piffle
- Indian Chief, Various
- Constituents (The Candid Candidate)
- Myron (Happy You and Merry Me)/(The Lost Kitten)
- Myron's Mother
- Cat (Not Now)
- Judge (Betty Boop's Trial)
- Cat/Parrot (Betty Boop's Penthouse)
- Abusive Farmer (Be Human)
Mad About Manhattan (1941)
A few moments later Jack Mercer came in. Jack is the "voice" of most of the characters in these animated cartoon movies you see. In Mr. Bug Goes to Town, Dave Fleischer's newest production nearing its release date, he is Swat the Fly. You say Swat like you say Harry the Horse. Mercer is also the voice of Popeye. I said, "Jack, you married?" "Sure," he told me, "I'm married to Olive Oyl." Olive is Popeye's sweetheart. Not long ago Jack was in New York on the "We The People" program. He is a Worthington, Indiana, product, a refugee from vaudeville, and he is himself an artist. Other voices that Jack has created include, Poopdeck Pappy and Spunky the donkey.
Seek "Popeye," "Olive Oyl" At Fabian Fox Brooklyn (1943)
Beginning next Monday night Paramount Pictures Famous Studios in conjunction with the Fox Fabian Theatre, Brooklyn, will inaugurate the first of a series of "Popeye" and "Olive Oyl" opportunity contests, tied in with the theatre's regular weekly amateur shows. Jack Mercer, who has been the voice of "Popeye," the sailorman, is in the Army now, and the contests are being staged in an effort to find a new vocal interpreter for the Technicolored cartoons series. "Popeye's" girlfriend, Olive Oyl, who in real life is Mrs. Jack Mercer, may go into defense work while hubby is away, and the contest accordingly becomes a double header. In addition to voice tests, Paramount Pictures is offering prizes of $150 in war bonds.
Draft Popeye (1943)
Popeye the sailor man is in the army now. Jack Mercer, who has been the screen voice of the spinach-eating gob for the past eleven years, has been inducted for camp on August 3, it is announced by Sam Buchwald, General Manager of Paramount Famous Studios. Mercer, who is a story and gag man for Famous Studios, has a trick set of vocal chords which permit him to talk into the gravel basso profundo of Popeye. The voice of Olive Oyl, the string-bean sweetheart of Popeye in the movies, is the voice of Marge Mercer, a really very beautiful young woman, and in real life the wife of Jack.
- He died at the age of 74 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on December 4, 1984 after stomach cancer-related problems.
- Mercer was married to the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl (Margie Hines) from 1939 to 1944, the two were later divorced. Mercer went on to marry a woman by the name of Virginia.
- After his death, Maurice LaMarche and Billy West performed the voice of Popeye.
- He was also regularly cast with Pinto Colvig.
- Mercer also wrote hundreds of scripts for various cartoon series, including a number of Popeye episodes, animated cartoons produced for Paramount Pictures, Deputy Dawg and Milton the Monster.