Lee Mendelson had not planned a career in animation. When the television sponsors saw the filmmaker's documentary about cartoonist Charles Schulz, they asked if they could band together to produce a Christmas special based on Schulz's Peanuts . The result, Charlie Brown Christmas was seen by about half of all households watching TV during their premiere on CBS on December 9, 1965.
Mendelson introduced more peanuts [19459004her] primetime specials, but 1966 It's the big pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains one of the loveliest. Read some facts about naked composers, puking dubbing and the bizarre ultimatum of CBS as you prepare the annual compassion for poor old Chuck ("I got a rock").
The Future of Animated Peanuts Specials hung from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown .
Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez had very high expectations of A Charlie Brown Christmas . But when they performed it before its premiere, they felt it was not reaching its potential – and CBS agreed. The network said it was the last peanut special they would buy. But after making huge reviews, CBS executives changed their minds and asked for more. When the two of them delivered another hit – the baseball theme Charlie Brown All-Stars – they thought they had earned the network's trust.
Instead, CBS told them that they needed a special that could run every year. like A Charlie Brown Christmas . If Mendelson could not provide it, they told him that they might not pick an option for a fourth show. Although angry at the aggressive attitude of the network, Schulz and his colleagues have worked out a story with a seasonal clothesline that could be repeated over time.
. 2 The voice of Violet puked after each recording session.
Nowadays, it is common to use adult actors to imitate youthful cartoon characters: adults are (presumably) better able to direct and deliver a performance that matches the director's wishes. But for many Peanuts specials, children were used to pronounce Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the others. Anne Altieri, who portrayed both Violet and Frieda, was so nervous of being part of the show that she surrendered each time she finished a recording session.
. 3 It was the first time that Lucy Charlie Brown took the football away.
At least in animated form. When Schulz, Mendelson, and Melendez came up with ideas for the scene for the special, the conversation revolved around the fact that Lucy had never seen it in animation to pull Charlie Brown's football away. They also decided that it would be a good time to introduce Snoopy's World War One ace. The joke had appeared in the strip, but Mendelson thought it would work even better in motion. He was right: the sequence with Snoopy in a Doghouse Dogfight is one of the most memorable in the animated canon Peanuts .
. 4 It's the Big Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is secretly trading Santa Claus.
The Great Pumpkin Saga was taken from Schulz's "Newspaper Strip", in which he had conceived it as a metaphor for some of the hopes (and disappointments) associated with Saint Nick. Schulz did not like the idea that children heard about a funny, fat man who delivered gifts all over the world when he knew that many families could afford only one or two gifts for the holidays. "The Big Pumpkin is really a kind of satire on Santa Claus," he said to Mendelson. "If [he] does not come, Linus will be crushed."
. 5 The music composer was found naked by police officers.
The jazzy scores of the early Peanuts specials were written by composer Vince Guaraldi. When he was busy putting together "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" for the show, he decided to take a shower. When he came out, he thought he heard noises outside and went to investigate naked, excluding himself. Without a key, Guaraldi tried to climb a ladder to a second-floor window when the police spotted him. "Do not shoot," he said. "I am the big pumpkin." The police, who had been away from the joke for many months, let him back into the house.
. 6 A Loose Tooth Almost Ruined It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown .
Kathy Steinberg was only 4 years old when she portrayed Sally for the first time in A Charlie Brown Christmas : The big break came when Mendelson, her neighbor, started working on the specials. Although Steinberg had some limitations-for example, that he was too young to read a screenplay-things were going well until the producers realized they were about to lose a tooth. They feared a lisp would ruin the off-voice, and they hurried to finish their lines. The day after the end of the tooth fell out.
. 7 Children have sent candy to Charlie Brown for years.
One of the most poignant moments of all Peanut's cartoons comes when defeated Charlie Brown opens his Halloween goodie sack and realizes that stones have been given to him instead of sweets. According to Schulz, these viewers were so upset that his office in California was flooded for years with treats aimed at the character.
. 8 The Original Broadcast of It's the big pumpkin, Charlie Brown was a bit different.
The production costs for the early Charlie Brown specials were subsidized by the television sponsors Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison-Snackkuchen: The brands appear at the beginning and at the end of the program. The Coke bug occurred for several years before it leaked out.
. 9 CBS got a bit salty because she lost the rights to the special.
After spending decades at CBS, the rights went to three holiday installments Peanuts in 2000. Although CBS could make the first offer, it was ABC that made the winning bid. Privately, the CBS managers were not happy at all about the business decision to take the football away. "It's a shame that a few dollars more meant for her than years of tradition and loyalty," said an employee of the network Anonymous Variety .
10th Some scientists thought the Great Pumpkin was real.
] In any case, a true myth: When Schulz spoke to the Schenectady Gazette in 1968, he said that since the special was broadcast two years ago, he has received a series of letters from scientists in which he asked himself Where is the story with the Great Pumpkin "A number of professional scholars have written to me about the genesis of the legend, insisting that it is based on something." Schulz suggested addressing the topic with Linus instead.
This article originally ran in 2015.