Cartoon Researcher Shaun Clancy sent in these scans (below, click thumbnails to read) from a Popular Science article from March 1941, about a fellow named Harry Welch (aka Harry Foster Welch), a “man of a thousand voices” who was supposedly the voice of Popeye on screen. But was he? Is this him?
Voice actor & voice expert Keith Scott says,
Although the article is filled with nonsense (the voice of the Big Bad Wolf for Disney and other totally untrue and questionable claims), there are some accurate details: he does credit (William) Costello as the original voice, and says he first filled in starting in 1934…that would coincide with when Costello left the picture, and before (Jack) Mercer became the voice we all know; could Welch be the truly awful Popeye voice in BE KIND TO AMINALS released early the following year in February 1935? It can’t be a radio Popeye, as has been speculated, because the first Popeye radio series didn’t air until late in 1935, after Jack had begun doing the film voice.
Might Welch have been one of the “fill-in” Popeye’s when Jack Mercer went to War in the early 1940s? One thing is known to be true: Welch apparently had official permission to perform as Popeye for public events and at amusement in the ’30s & ’40s. Here’s the article – you be the judge.