William "Billy" Costello
|Born||William Arnold Costello
February 2, 1898
|Died||October 9, 1971
San Jose, California
|Resting place||Mariposa District Cemetery
St Catherine's Catholic Church cemetery, Hornitos, California
|Other names||Red Pepper Sam, Billy|
|Occupation||Stage actor, voice actor|
William "Billy" Costello (February 2, 1898 – October 9, 1971), commonly known as "Red Pepper Sam", was an American live and voice actor, and the original voice of Popeye the Sailor in animated cartoons.
Costello was born on February 2, 1898, in Rhode Island, to William E. and Susan B. (neé Steere) Costello. In addition to voice acting, he worked as a vaudeville performer under the name "Red Pepper Sam". Costello had worked with the Fleischer Studios as the voice of Gus the Gorilla on the Betty Boop radio show and they felt that the raspy voice he had used for that character would work for the new Popeye character they were planning. He was cast to provide the voice for the first Popeye cartoon, 1933's Popeye the Sailor. Costello appeared in the next 24 Popeye shorts until he was fired by the Fleischers, allegedly over "bad behavior," and was replaced with Jack Mercer. Costello's final appearance was in You Gotta Be a Football Hero (1935).
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