Fan Favorite: How did Charlie Brown win over America?


Part Genius is presented by Subaru and the Subaru Love Promise. A commitment made by Subaru retailers to do right by the communities in which we all live and work Subaru's partnership with the leukemia and Lymphoma Society to deliver messages of hope has more than seven hundred hospitals nationwide to learn more about how Subaru gives back visit Subaru Dot com slash love Dash promise that Subaru dot com slash love Ash promise. Welcome to parttime genius. Production of I heart radio. Guess what mango. It is officially Charlie Brown season. I know I am so excited. You know right between Thanksgiving and Christmas is when my family buckles down and we watch all all those specials and it is wild. It's been over. Fifty Years in some of the big ones actually came up. But what is weirdest to me is that my kids are so into. Charlie Brown like almost quaint. Ruby had a peppermint patty birthday party when she turned three. Because she assumed everyone was into peppermint patty too and so we just just hand out headbands and did a gym. I love this fact and the fact that probably more than half the kids had no idea who patty was at least going into the party unsure. Rubi told in all about her but anyway so why are they so into the specials you know I have no idea. Something just clicked with them but like Henry actually based his Thanksgiving speech a few years ago completely on the one that I think Charlie Brown gives Thanksgiving special. And we've definitely watched. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown Charlie Brown Christmas Christmas a whole bunch of times. But you know they're even into some of the oddball ones like race for your life. Charlie Brown which is about the gang going to camp. That's very you did hit on some of the big ones there but I do think you forgot one of the most important of them all of course. It's Arbor Day Charlie Brown. I do not think we watch that one is is that a real thing or you're just making it up. Oh it's absolutely real thing. It was just one of the forty five Charlie Brown specials out there forty five. I had no idea that many oh man. I'm I'm surprised that you don't watch. It's the Easter Beagle. Charlie Brown every single Easter Island Mr without that special show. And actually there's also it's your first Kiss Charlie Brown which is another classic and also kind of weird. But we've got a lot of catching up to do here. And with the holiday holiday season upon us we thought now would be the perfect time to look into the history of our favorite melancholy grade schoolers. So we'll talk about the origin of the comic strip including the real life inspiration inspiration behind some of the characters. The story of how the beloved Christmas special came to be and how it was very nearly canceled and production. Now of course we'll also talk a little. What about the reason? Why Creator Charles? Schulz hated the name peanuts and why some fans can't stand. snoopy is a lot to cover. So let's dive in Hey there podcast listeners. Welcome the part time genius we'll Pearson and as always I'm joined by my good friend main guest ticket or and on the other side of the soundproof glass just shuffling a stack of buttered toes. kind of like it's a deck of their friends and producer. tristen McNeil and I do have to admit when Tristan said he wanted to recreate the famous meal from the peanuts Thanksgiving. Thanks giving special. I really never dreamed it would be this theatrical. But it's really quite a show. Don't you think you didn't think testing would be theatrical. I I don't know it just surprised me. Yeah I mean I have no idea how he's doing this. He's wearing those slices like he's a blackjack dealer or something like that. He's giving the Thanksgiving special little. I love it I feel like it's always the one that gets overshadowed by both like the Halloween special in the Christmas special. But we've had sauce for a Charlie Brown thanksgiving at my house. Especially where put together that last minute. Feast for Charlie Brown and he's got all that popcorn and pretzels but when the kids are gone snoopy and woodstock are just back of their dog house and they've got a lavish spread for themselves with Tonkin. PA roasted vegetables. Even this giant cooked Turkey and they're basically living get off while the kids are just eating a snack food. I mean it's kind of a jerk. Move but when you think about it. It's it's that mix of Whimsey and low key meanness that are sort of par for the course for peanuts. For instance did ever strike you as just a little bit weird that woodstock would help snoopy carve and eat the Turkey. I mean it is a bird you know what's funny about is that I never actually gave it much thought but it turns out. You're not alone in this Lee Mendelson. Who is the executive producer onto peanuts? Specials he actually jetted to that scene because he was so weirded out by it but because idea comes straight from Charles Shulz peanuts creator. He was overruled ruled. The scene aired is planned. What was funny is that Mendelssohn did eventually get his way so all these years later? CVS asked Mendelssohn to cut three minutes from the special so they can can fit in. You know more commercials and Mendelssohn seize the chance and he removed that scene of woodstock eating Turkey so you can only see him eating pie instead but then years later the rights of special move to ABC and the network decided to aired. Uncut meaning. Woodstock is once again accountable. It feels a little bit odd. Be Kicking off. So far peanuts show with the fact about bird cannibalism but it also kind of feels appropriate. You know given how dark Charlie Brown and his chums could often be actually in fact. Have you ever seen the very first peanuts trip. I have and I don't remember yes. So it shows a boy and a girl just sitting on the sidewalk and this boy Sherman as his his name he says well here comes good old. Charlie Brown good old Charlie Brown. Yes sir good old Charlie Brown and when Charlie Brown is out of Sight Shami ads. How I hate him? And that's the punchline. So yeah there's there's definitely some darkness to the world of peanuts no matter how cute or simplistic Listrik. The characters might look but there's also incredible warmth and humor there as well and it feels like it's that unique mix. That really made peanuts this enduring part of pop culture not only in the US but all around the world so we've definitely got a lot to go through today but where do you WanNa start. Why don't we spend a few minutes on the man behind the peanuts? What's himself Charles M.? Shot so this name sounds familiar enough. Because we've all seen his name a million times it's signed at the bottom of each and every peanuts strip all seventeen seventeen thousand eight hundred ninety seven of them while but despite the constant exposure lots of people still miss name him as shorts with a t it's actually S.. Chu Accord medium. The misspelling is so common. That's actually appeared wrong in more than thirty thousand articles to date as well as the original opening opening to the peanuts Christmas special. I guess someone caught it at the very last minute. But there was an error that was going to be aired in the premier. While I guess I've actually never thought about this and I'm sure that I'm guilty of making the same mistake but what what kind of name is Scholz like. Is it German yeah. His Dad call. SCHOLTZ immigrated from Germany Minnesota which is where he met that Charles's mom Dina and Charles. Was this only child. He was born in Nineteen twenty two. He grew up in Saint Paul. What's interesting is that Saint? Paul is one of the few places in the country that has has both Super Hot Summers and freezing cold winters. And it's the same for the peanuts kids right like. There's so many strips that are centered on these summer activities like playing playing baseball flying kites selling lemonade on hot days. But then you have a ton of strips where there's like a foot of snow on the ground and everyone's playing ice hockey so then is peanuts actually set in Saint Paul. I mean there's some debate about that. Some fans think disturbed set near Santa Rosa California. which is where Schulz lived? Once the peanuts became a hit Eh. But that doesn't make much sense when you look at all the strips said in the winter but with little evidence there is in the strips does kind of point to either Saint Paul or Minneapolis. Bliss says their hometown for instance. There's a strip in nineteen fifty seven and implied that the characters lived in Hennepin county which is in Minnesota and two years before that there was one where Schroeder confesses. He always thought his hero. Beethoven was a native of Minnesota which is presumably just like him all right. Well all of that makes sense. You'd actually expect a cartoonist. Are Tuning to set the strip about childhood in their hometown. That wouldn't be that surprising and It'll be pretty on theme for Schultz because when you look at the comic so many elements of the peanut outstrip turn out to be somewhat by graphical I mean just listen to this breakdown. Shurmur was a childhood friend. Schroeder was a caddy at the golf course scholtz worked at as a a teenager. Linus and Lucy. Van Pelt got their last name from a man's Schultz served in the army with meanwhile Lucy's character was inspired by Schultz his first wife and his mother. I guess there's another tactic does seem to be the case Aca I was reading this tribute to Charles shows from Bill Watterson who is my hero and And he thought peanuts as the gold standard of comic strips and this is his take on lucy quote. I was struck less by the fact that Schulz drew on his troubled marriage for material than by the sympathy that he shows his tormentor and by his ability to poke fun at himself which is actually pretty interesting like aac Lucius annoying mean-spirited but you don't ever really hate her for it No that's true. And you know he was looking for inspiration everywhere even line is his is famous. Blue blanket came straight from Schultz's life when his daughter was younger she was obsessed with her own security blanket. Yeah of course. They're going to be stealing from life when you've got like a daily deadline and working at that sort of volume. But I I think the one character I always think about is the little red haired girl who goes unnamed. And and. That's the one that Charlie Brown always had that huge crush on she was apparently based on Schulz's girlfriend in the late forties. This redhead named Donna Mae Johnson and after the awarded to them work together at this correspondent school in Minneapolis and after a few years of dating shows finally worked up the nerve to propose to her. But then Donnie turn them down and married a different guy a few months later and it was obviously this huge blow to his pride but in the end that were deal actually inspired one of his most famous characters and supposedly he and Donna may remained friends for years later. I mean there are some definite shades of Charlie Brown to that story and you can see that throughout his work. Yeah definitely and it makes sense because both Charlie Brown and snoopy they're often considered stand-ins for Schultz himself. In fact Charles's son Craig Scholz once said about him. Each of the characters represents apiece of our dad. Charlie Brown was his real self and snoopy was what he wanted to be. which is Kinda funny to think about but it makes sense and both characters also oh had real world counterparts to Charlie? Brown was actually the name of a friend that Charles worked with prior to creating peanuts and snoopy was based on Charles's own childhood dog. Doug this English pointer Beagle who was named spike and whose name would later be used for one of snoopy's brothers so if Schultz had a dog names by then. And where's the name. snoopy come from apparently Charles had originally planned to call his dog sniffy but then found out that another comic featured a dog with the same name aim so he had to change it to something else but luckily he had this backup when he was a kid. His mother suggested that if they ever got another dog they should name him. snoopy and so. That's that's where the name came from way back back to the real world snoopy for a second. It's pretty striking. How devoted to his dog Charles was just like Charlie Brown would later be snoopy? So how how do you mean the very first drawing that Charles ever published was his dog spike. So Charles was just fifteen years old at the time when he submitted this drawing an actually a fact along with it to Ripley's believe it or not and it got published nationally. I mean that's pretty cool. But what was so unbelievable about spike died autumn published. In Ripley's the drawings captions said that Spike was quote. A hunting dog that eats pins tacks and razor blades. So he didn't exactly have snoopy's refined how it but it does sound like spike shared his taste for adventure. There was this article in mental floss about this. That was talking about the dog would make a break for freedom anytime the door was open. Only come back because he loved going on car ride so whenever spike got loose Charles would run to his dad's car and basically just honk doc the horn as a way to lure the dog back. I mean we. We actually had a dog like that growing up. She run off for the only way to get back to unwrap a slice of American. Exactly that's talk. Works is so weird that like that plastic peel was coming off the crafts. That will make a race back to the house. But you know having any dog keeps losing. Sounds Very Charlie Brown to me as well and speaking of some of my favorite peanuts factor are the ones that overlap between Charlie Brown's childhood and Charles Schultz's this like there's a surface level stuff. Both them had fathers who were Barbara's but then they're also wonderfully tragic tidbits from shelters life. That feels so Charlie Ali Brown like his dad used to give haircuts but when customers game in you'd have to hop out of the chair so you just have to grump around and wonder about with half a haircut. How does it sound so very Charlie Brown? It's pretty great. Yeah I know and there was one time when Charleston Line at a movie theater because they were handing out candy bars to the first one one hundred kids to buy tickets that day and of course Scholtz was one hundred. I kid in line. When he was in high school teacher convinced him to draw some comic I knew yearbook and so of course being super timid and socially awkward? He's a little nervous but he's desperately wants to be a cartoonist. So you overcome his shyness. SC submits artwork and the yearbook comes out. Of course everyone had forgotten to include work like not a single one of his cartoons. Well that's a tough break. It is interesting to see that. Not every aspect of peanuts is drawn from Scholtz own experience. You know if you take the character. Franklin for instance he was introduced says the Comic Strips First Black Character. This was in July of nineteen sixty eight and this was just a few months after the assassination of MLK junior yeah. It's amazing that's fifty years ago this year and and and this is based on reader suggestion right. He that's right at the reader was a mother of three name. Harriet Glickman men and she wrote the shelves just a few days. After the death of Martin Luther King and now in that note Glickman noted the power that mass media has to shape what she called the unconscious attitudes the two of our kids so she has scholtz to add one or more black characters. Two strokes and this was so that children could see that respect and friendship was possible between people all of all races and was pretty moved by the idea but he didn't add the character immediately. He was actually a little bit nervous. That the move might seem to be patronizing harnessing to black readers but glickman continued to correspond with him over the course of several months you know he decided to change his mind on this and on July. First he wrote to say that Glickman's should watch for the new character to appear by the end of the month which of course he did and so does show suffer any blowback from from this. When when the stroke comes out well you know you had some black readers that did argue that Franklin was a bland character and therefore somewhat patronizing but in general readers? Appreciated the added representation as well as you know how kind and worry free Franklin was compared with other peanuts kids. But it's still. It was undoubtedly a tense time for America Erica for an artist to debut what was essentially the first minority character in a mainstream comic strip. But other than this brief exchange were Franklin mentions that his father was a soldier in Vietnam. There's really nothing. Overtly political about his inclusion like Charlie Brown loses his beach ball only to have it found and returned to him by a boy named Franklin Glen and then the boys decided to build a sand castle together which is of course very sweet. Yeah but they're definitely a bit of backlash from this. You had several newspaper editors from southern states that wrote to shoulder demanding that he stop using the character or at the very least that he avoids showing Franklin in school with the other white characters which is just mind boggling to think about but his response was pretty straightforward. So here's what. He told an interviewer years later about the incident. I never paid any attention to those things. And I remember telling United Features President Larry Rudman at the time about Franklin. He wanted me to change it and we talked about it for a long while on the phone and I finally only side and I said well Larry. Let's put it this way either. You print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How's that so that's the way it ended? I mean that is so awesome awesome. And it's nice to hear that. Despite whatever reservations he might have had at the beginning scholtz alternately went to bat for Franklin this really big way. Yeah and you know I know. We wanted to talk about an earlier occasion. Schultz butted heads with upper management. And this time about what this trip should be called but before we get into that. Let's take a quick break. The part time genius listeners. I know I've mentioned this before. I am a long time. Subaru driver I think for most of the past couple of decades have driven only Subaru. That's amazing to think about this and also to learn more about the company. Something I wanNa tell you about called the Subaru loved promise This is a commitment made by Subaru and it's retailers to do right by the communities in which we all live and work. You should check this out so to learn more about how Subaru gives back visit Subaru dot com slash love Dash Promise again that Subaru Dot com slash. Love Dash Promise. You're listening to part time genius and we're talking about cartoonist. Charles Schulz and his beloved peanuts comicstrip so to be clear. There was one thing that she'll definitely did not love about his own strip. And that was the title so back in nineteen fifty when he first pitched the Strip to be carried by the United Features Syndicate Schultz. Insisted the title should be little folks six maybe wasn't the most creative title but it does seem somewhat fitting if you think about how so many of his characters they read like these. He's little kids with grownup type worries and like they're plagued by this level of anxiety and almost neurosis that's typically reserved for adults whether's there's fitting or not the executives had different problem with it so there was already a strip called little folks exam with the word little all spelled out instead of little like L.. Right right and then there was also a little abner the comic strips so they worry that readers might confuse the titles or or worse at the creators of the rival strips might sue them for copyright infringement independent so instead the production manager the syndicate decided to call the Strip peanuts and I guess this was a reference to the Howdy doody show that was pretty popular at the time. Hi I'm Wendy Kim Two tapings. They sat in the peanut gallery so the production managers thought. You know like he'd riff off that idea and just called the small kids. Peanuts do like that. Their solution to to not being sued was to rip off. TV show instead either. I know the other theories that they thought little folks was a week title but they didn't want to upset shot's not that he wasn't upset anyway in one thousand nine hundred seven interview he was still angry about the peanuts style and he said quote. It's totally ridiculous. Has No meaning is simply confusing and has no dignity and I think my humor has dignity. He never got to change the name but of course was once the Strip took off he was kinda stuck with the title. And what's finding is that shows actually avoided using the title himself. He claimed that whenever someone asked him what he did for a living he would just tell them. I draw comic Strip with snoopy in it Charlie Brown and his dog. Whatever you call it? There's no question that Schultz's comic doc was a runaway. Hit once this trip gained a little bit of steam so it was published in just seven. US newspapers when it debuted back in October of nineteen fifty will by the end of. It's fifty year run in two thousand. The comic was being translated in over. Twenty different languages published in seventy five different countries and had grown it's global readership to a staggering during three hundred and fifty five million people so in total over fifteen thousand daily strips and twenty five hundred Sunday strips were produced all written an ink and lettered by Charles. Scholz himself I mean it was this unprecedented run and actually so unprecedented that the media scholar Robert Thompson wants called the fifty ear story of Charlie Brown and his pals arguably the longest told story by a single artist in human history. I mean that's really incredible to think about. So what do you think made it. Click with people for such a long time. Well I think a big part of it goes back to something that we mentioned at the top of the show which is the way this trip really found this middle ground in terms of tone. I mean it was funny and sometimes sweep but there was always kind of this prickly world-weary feeling underlying the humor there and as it turns out this was all by design so Schultz believed that happiness in humor. Didn't really mix which is of course why Charlie Brown never does get got to kick that. Football Schultz also dealt with bouts of depression in his own life and one way he found relief by channeling his anxieties directly into his art which makes a lot of sense and the result is a strip with his somewhat. Despairing worldview and one we're Schultz once explained. Here's what he said about. He said all the love unrequited all the baseball games or lost all the test. Scores Are D. minuses. The Great Pumpkin never comes and the football is always pulled away. Way like when you describe it really does. Yeah it's funny about shows like completely stuck to that formula for the strips entire run. Just things did get a little cheerier in the mid late. Sixties wants the. TV's special started like an and That merchandising really kicked into high gear. I've actually heard that most fans use as the rises. snoopy and pop culture is kind of turning point in the strips. Run and You know there's this first decade or so where snoopy's more or less normal dog and the strap he walks awesome forelegs he. He doesn't communicate through thought balloons and he doesn't even have a clear owner in the straps like much less tricked out doghouse and weirdly. This also also the period where the human characters were. What the creator of little admiral called good mean little bastards eager to hurt one another? As the sixties dawn shields began to capitalize on his creation with licensing deals and product tie INS which caused that public perception of peanuts to shift and suddenly the characters were seen as much sweeter and kinder kinder than the strips had ever really been and while the newer strips never really lost their edge completely and Charlie Brown remained the world's you know punching bag snoopy did begin to take take on more and more of the limelight and as this happened the character became less and less like a real dog by the late sixties. snoopy was walking on two legs. He composing love letters with a typewriter his doghouse also spending a lot less time around the human characters and instead he was either hanging out with his new animal friends like Woodstock or where he was off by himself. Sort of waging these imaginary wars against the villainous red baron in other words things took a much Zanier turn and lots of peanuts offense kind of think of that as when the strip kind of jumped the shark. Some people must have liked these changes though right because snoopy never became a normal dog again so it feels like something something must have been working. Yeah so some readers thought the new snoopy was a breath of fresh air especially in contrast to how bleak the kids could be sometimes and that really does make sense when you think about how other characters never really react. SNOOPY's changes you know he. He suddenly has this whole inner world. That's generally much more positive and upbeat than that of the kids. But they still kinda just treat them like a regular dog which is interesting because I wonder what such a sharp turn and characterizations says about what was going on you know for Schultz at the time like in his own life. And you know. Get this new freewheeling snoopy who was supposedly the person or the character I guess Schultz always wanted to be you know somebody who is is adventurous and carefree instead of being bogged down by doubt and worry all the time. And so you think about this time in his life. And maybe by the sixties sixties and seventies you know all this fame and fortune that Schultz finally made made him feel like that kind of person. I guess he was happier in his personal life. It wouldn't make sense that he might want to revel in that feeling and focus more on snoopy yeah. I think there's probably some truth to that. But for many fans perspectives the new snoopy and by extension. The new shorts were nothing to celebrate this. All the slicker flashier snoopy. As kind of like hard proof that Schultz who's now this millionaire cartoonist had kind of lost touch touch with those insecurities that had made Charlie Brown so relatable in the first place so the Atlantic actually did an article on this and they subbed up. Feeling this way quote. There was something I think. Fundamentally rotten about the new snoopy who's charm was based on his total lack of concern about what others thought of him. His confidence his breezy sense that the world may be falling apart part but one can still dance on was worse than irritating it was morally bankrupt. Two legged snoopy with his heirs fantasies. PEERLESS snoopy rich. snoopy be popular. Snoopy world-famous newbie contented snoopy. That's spoiled everything could Lord. I mean so over thought on the one hand hand but I mean I guess I get what they're saying but it still feels pretty harsh to pin all of that on snoopy. And when you think about the strips where snoopy's imagining all of these wild eld kind of high flying adventures. They usually end with a reality bursting as bubble in some way and all of a sudden snoopy feels cold. So we're back on top of his doghouse and sure sure desert or wherever but I don't know things like that always made me feel like snoopy's flights of fancy where they were really just another coping mechanism for how tough life can be. That was like lionesses blanket. Or Lucy's hot temper but I don't know there just seems like such a harsh reaction and you think about this. snoopy would talk a good game but at the end of the day. He's just Apopka so I don't know to me. There's something endearing about that. Yeah I mean I agree with that and I think shows would as well in one thousand nine hundred nine. He was being interviewed on the tonight show just as he was announcing his retirement and he observed that quote. snoopy likes to think that he's Independent. Dog who does all all these things and leads his own life but he always makes sure that you'd never gets too far from that. Suffered Ish all right well. Now that we've talked a little more about the unique tone own and mood of the peanuts strips. What do you say we take a look at how that translated into all those TV specials definitely first? Let's take a quick break home. Projects can be tough and finding the right pros to help with these projects can be even harder and spark a lot of questions. Like how do I find a pro who can help nope will they do. A good job will get a fair price. Luckily that's where homeadvisor can help from leaky. Faucets to major remodels and everything in between homeadvisor can match you with top rated local pros and seconds. The pros have been reviewed by your neighbors. So you can see what others thought of their work. And with homeadvisor's true cost guide. You can see what others paid for similar projects in your area so you can check if you're getting a fair price plus to top it all off. You can even book Appointments Online at a time that works for you home. Projects had never been easier with home advisor so get started on your next project today. Find the right pro at a fair price. Just ask homeadvisor go to homeadvisor DOT COM or download the free award winning home advisor APP. That's homeadvisor dot com or download. The free APP okay mango. So we established earlier. That you didn't exactly do your homework. By watching nineteen seventy sixes. It's Arbor Day so I guess we'll have to talk about that in a later. Maybe a dedicated episode just to that. But it's actually not the only unusual unusual title. I mean there's some other chestnuts in the mix like someday you'll find her. Charlie Brown which sounds a little bleak and my personal favorite. Why Charlie Brown? Why why why indeed? That's that's a crazy title. Well I think because money mango I mean the first peanuts special was such a giant ratings hip for. CBS Network immediately commissioned four more specials and obviously many more to follow that which is fair enough. But I think for everyone's sake which probably just stick to a special that people have actually seen so. Why don't we talk a little bit about the one that people will be watching the million time in the next few weeks which is nine hundred sixty fifty five the Charlie Brown Christmas sense? What do you want to say I about well? How about the fact is nobody involved in the special thought it was actually going to work? And it's actually hard to imagine in this now but there are a lot of factors working against it while it was in production and a lot of those actually stemmed from controversial choices that Schulz himself insisted on on like what so for starters shows insisted that the peanuts kids be voiced by real children and this meant the crew will be working with mostly non professionals many of whom we're too young to memorize their lines or even to read in some cases so most of the child actors had to have their lines fed to them a few words. At a time it was all done by that long-suffering suffering director and and the voice of snoopy Bill Melendez. I mean just hearing that does make me realize that in the specials the voices do sound a little choppy. You like the way. Kids talk is an exactly seamless. Yeah I mean there's not a lot of rhythm to the senses and if you listen close enough you can actually hear the seams between the words where like different from parts of the line were stitched together and post yeah but these untrained actors were just the first of many notes that ended up jeopardizing the project and these were all coming from Scholtz. So and other shakeup came when Schultz refused to let the network use a laugh track to I guess Kinda cute the viewers on the jokes which is so strange because it is hard to imagine adjutant now with a laugh track. Yeah I guess laugh tracks were common practice at the time even in cartoons like the flintstones obviously relied on I think the the jetsons to Lee Mendelson mentioned the idea to Scholtz the artists simply got up and left the room and then a few minutes later shows came back and carried on the conversation. Shen as if nothing had happened does sound a little bit like George Costanza tactic pretty funny. Yeah totally and I guess. Mendelssohn read between in lines on that Never brought up the laugh track again. Wow what about some of the heavier stuff in special like the commercialization of Christmas and that scene where linus reads from the Bible like with Schultz behind those kinds of decisions to yeah definitely really important to him that the special explore what he called the true meaning of Christmas which is why Linus. Ns reads the story of Jesus's birth straight from the gospel of Luke and this was a super risky move at the time because according to the Atlantic less than nine percent of Christmas episodes Assoc- specials from the era contain any religious references of any kind much less direct quotes from scripture so surprisingly. CBS didn't object to this inclusion. And neither did Coca Cola. who was the sponsor the producer though was super nervous and he told shows that no enemy character had ever read from the Bible before which was is all the more reason to Schultz and he told Mendelssohn well? If we don't do it who will I mean. I guess that's true but that was still a pretty big gamble at the time I mean. CBS listen coke must have really liked what they saw they let the reference pass without you know much more scrutiny. Yeah I mean you'd think so. But this executive from Cokes Ad Agency actually visit the crew halfway through production and he said the special was shaping up to be a total disaster and CBS thought the same thing when they screened like this early cut of it just a few weeks before for the premiere they said there was too little action that the whole thing moved way. Too slowly and not to mention the low energy voice acting and jazzy soundtrack which they just I found grading for some reason but bill Melendez later said that the network would have scrapped the entire special except that made this commitment to coke and it was kind of too late to back out so the show went on as scheduled and to everyone's shock viewers just tuned in and drove slave. I WANNA say on half of all American households rules with TV tuned in to watch the special at night was apparently fifteen million people at the time and a few months later Charles. SCHOLTZ and Lee Mendelson were on stage at the EMMYS Actually accepting the ward for outstanding children's program it was the surprise hit that no one had seen coming. And that includes Charles Schulz himself he later told Oh. TV Guide in one thousand nine hundred five the continued success of the special surprise me as much as anyone. A lot of the drawings are terrible and and of course those terrible drawings are based on his own designs. Yeah I guess. We shouldn't be too surprised that Schultz would take glass half empty approach. When Judge Ryan Work I you know for all the fanciful touches in his stories like kite eating trees and canine fighter pilots? Peanuts is really earliest trip about simple truths it's characters are vulnerable just like the Creator and all of us really and there's no grande finale or Cathartic resolution to the stories. And that's probably what makes the strips rings true to us yet. I've actually been thinking a lot this week. About a quote that Shultz gave an interview and it was actually with penthouse of all places places but he was talking about how much of his own life is wrapped up in the Strip and what he hoped to accomplish with it. And here's what he had to say about it. Of course I could grind find out daily gags but I'm not interested in simply doing gags. I'm interested in doing a strip that says something and make some comment on the important things of life and and I really think that mantra bleeds through every single one of his strips and Yeah they show us that. Life is made up of both small hard one triumphs and these bitterly felt disappointments and not always in equal measure. Either but the important thing is to pick yourself up and never stopped trying and Charles Shulz understood that and I feel like thanks to his work lots of other people including US do too definitely but before we dive into this delicious Feast of buttered toast and Jelly beans. The Tristan has prepared for us. What do you say we sneak in a quick fact off? I don't know if I can hold off but let's try. So did you know that NASA gives out an award every year called the silver snoopy. It's actually a silver pin and instead of going to astronauts it actually is the astronauts who give the awards to the staff the researchers that help support them. So this program program started in the sixties. And you're probably wondering why snoopy well. At the time NASA had just suffered the disaster with the Apollo one mission and they were looking for for something uplifting that people could really get behind and there was nothing bigger than snoopy at the time so today the pens go for about a thousand dollars on Ebay Bay and NASA claims every pin goes to space and comes back before it's handed out. Oh I really liked that. So when Charles Shulz moved away from Minnesota as an adult he never actually gave up his love of Ice Hockey so when one ice skating rink that was close to his home in California closed in the sixties he actually had one built and according to mental floss he loved the Swiss Alpine themed arena so much that he ate both breakfast and lunch there every day at it's warm warm puppy snack bar and he also used to play pick up games every week with his sons on Tuesday nights which is kind of fun. Well apparently the Charlie Brown a Halloween special had a huge impact on kids and particularly the scene. Where Charlie Brown opens his Halloween bag and finds that he's just got a bunch of rocks instead of the kids thought? This was so unfair that for years they would try to share their treats with him and so they would send bags of candy to Charles Schulz. His office care of Charlie Brown. So here's the super weird one about musician. Vince Korol who did all that jazzy music for the specials friendly one night while he was composing music for the Halloween special he decided to take a shower but when he heard a noise outside he ran down to see what it was and somehow he locked himself out of his house in the process completely naked. I don't know why he didn't have them by the only way to get back into. His house was the climate and break into his own house and of course it was called the cops on him so apparently when the police came up to this naked man breaking into his own house and asked him to identify himself. He did keep his sense of humor and he said don't don't shoot. I'm the Great Pumpkin. Of course all right. Well here's a super-quick fact about the trouble with working with kid actors so during the taping. Being of the Christmas special there was a child actress who portrayed both violet and freedom and she would get so nervous before reading each time that after she was done recording wording every single time she would throw up now. Luckily she didn't have that big of a role kid actors. Yeah well here's one that's kind of heart warming warming so we all know that Lucy loves to pull that football away from Charlie Brown just as he's about to kick it and often she says mean things right before or after like friendly I shall ask him. Don't you trust anyone anymore. Football out or shall let him know after. She's pulled it away that don't you know a women's handshake isn't bind. Find a strange bit of Legalese. There there was one moment where she let him kick the ball. And this was in one thousand nine hundred seventy as slate reports There was actually a sequence where Charlie Brown gets very ill and when Lucy. Here's that he's sick Might not come back from the hospital. She says how much he means to her and then promises to let him kick the football if he gets better and then when he does recover she lives up to a promise and holds the ball out for him but of course he slips and misses it anyway nice to know that for once she gave him a chance and I like that fact so I think you get to take home. Today's trophy. Thank you will and thanks for all of you out there for tuning into another part time genius. I am sure you have wonderful. Snoopy and Charlie Brown memories. So if you've got factor stories we definitely want to hear them or if you've got topics you want us to the cover. We're actually looking for those two so just emails part time genius at how stuff works dot com or hit us up on the socials but from gave tristen willing me. Thank you so much for. You're listening thanks again for listening. part-time genus production of how stuff works and wouldn't be possible without several brilliant people who do the important things. We couldn't even begin to understand. Chris McNeil Does the ending. Thing Noah Brown made the theme song. Does the mixing mixie sound thing. Jerry role in does the exact producer thing gave. Losers are lead researcher with support from the Research Army including Austin Thompson Nolan Brown. And Lucas Adams and Eves Jessica gets the show to your ears good job eve's it's like what you heard. We hope you'll subscribe. And if you really really like what you've heard maybe you could leave a good review for us to be. Do we forget you Jason. The Subaru Love Promises. A commitment made by Subaru retailers to do right by the communities in which we all live and work Subaru is retailers and leukemia and Lymphoma Society have delivered more than one hundred forty eight thousand blankets and twenty one thousand arts and crafts kits to hospitals and cancer treatment centers nationwide and. That's over the past. I four years to learn more about how Subaru gives back. Is it Subaru Dot com slash. Love Dash promise that Subaru Dot com slash. Love Dash Promise.

Coming up next