Top 10 pirates in popular culture

    The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington was started 100 years ago with the paintings and illustrations of Howard Pyle, who invented the iconic “pirate” we know today. To celebrate a century of pirates, here are our 10 favorites.


    Peter Crimmins reports that the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington is celebrating it’s 100th birthday, and it all comes down to pirates. The museum was started with the paintings and illustrations of artist and illustrator Howard Pyle, who is credited with inventing the iconic (totally fictional) pirate we know today.


    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    To celebrate a century of pirates, NewsWorks is giving you our 10 favorite pirates.

    Who is your favorite pirate?Tell us in the comments below.

    But first, a joke. Because… why not?

    A soldier met a pirate in a bar, and they got to talking about their adventures. The soldier saw the pirate’s peg leg, an eyepatch over his right eye, and a hook where his right hand used to be, and he asked, “So, how’d you end upwith a peg leg?” 

    The pirate replied, “Arrr, I was swept overboard into a school o’ sharks. As my men pulled me out, a shark bit me leg off.”

    “Wow!” said the soldier. “And that hook. Did you lose your hand?”

    “Aye,” answered the pirate. “We was boardin’ an enemy ship when her captain hacked off me hand at the wrist!”

    “Incredible. And how’d you get that eye patch?”

    “Oh, that’s a greivous tale, indeed,” said the pirate. “Ya see, a grapefruit squirted in me eye.”

    Incredulous, the soldier said, “Wait a minute. You’re saying you lost your eye … to grapefruit juice?”

    “Codswallop!” shouted the pirate. “No, not the grapefruit! It was me first day with the new hook.”

    And now, the list.

    Top 10 Pirates in Popular Culture

    10. Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” (1935)

    9. Burt Lancaster as Captain Vallo in “The Crimson Pirate” (1952)

    8. The Pirate King from Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “The Pirates of Penzance”

    7. Hall of Fame baseball player Fred Clarke of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1872-1960) 

    6. Robert Urich as Jason in the 1984 sci-fi flick “The Ice Pirates

    5. Billy Bones from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island

    4. Tim Curry as Long John Silver in “Muppet Treasure Island” (1950)

    3. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” films

    2. Captain James Hook, from any incarnation of “Peter Pan” you like

    1. Captain Morgan (With a splash of cola. Maybe a lime.)

    And if you haven’t had enough, has a gallery of real pirates.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal