Little Bits of History

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 9, 2015
Charles Schulz*

Charles Schulz*

December 9, 1965: A Charlie Brown Christmas appears on television for the first time. The 25 minute running timed musical animated special was based on Charles M Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. It was produced by Lee Mendleson and directed by Bill Melendez. The theme music composer was vince Guaraldi. The comic strip’s launch date for the daily cartoon was October 2, 1050 and it came to the Sunday papers on January 6, 1952. The last original daily cartoon was run on January 3, 2000 and the last original Sunday cartoon ran on February 13 of that year. Schultz had died just the day before at the age of 77.

A Charlie Brown Christmas featured a depressed Charlie Brown who was appalled by the commercialization of Christmas and was commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. The entire program was brought to the small screen for just $96,000 and took only six months to create. There were several oddities to the show. First of all, the voice actors were real children rather than adults speaking as children. There was no laugh track, something used extensively for television animation at the time. Instead, of canned laughter, Guaraldi played jazz music on a piano as the background sound. Because of these reasons as well as the tone, pacing, and animation, the show was considered to be a disaster in the making.

Instead of the doom predicted for A Charlie Brown Christmas, it received high ratings and approval from the critics and audience. It received both an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has become a Christmas staple, shown yearly in the US. The jazz soundtrack also was a commercial success and went triple platinum. Live stage productions are also seen around the country. While CBS was the original network to air the program, ABC is currently airing the program at least twice in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

Charlie Brown, always sad, was not taken seriously by his friends when he lamented the loss of the true meaning of Christmas. He was in such a state, he even visited Lucy in her psychiatrist booth. She proscribed activity for him and gave him the task of putting on a Christmas play. As he headed to the auditorium, he was confronted by abject commercialism from his dog and his sister. At the venue, he was unable to control his “cast” and Charlie left to go buy a Christmas tree, thinking it might help the situation. When he returned with a pitiful, at best, tree he was met with ridicule. Frustrated, he asked his friends if they know the true meaning of the holiday and then Charlie left and his friends realized they had been remiss and help him celebrate the day as it was intended. Linus ended the program when he recited from the Bible and the Gospel of Luke .

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. – the Bible

Also on this day: NYC’s First Daily – In 1793, Noah Webster began to publish NYC’s first daily newspaper.
Muckraker – In 1935, Walter Liggett was murdered for his belief in a free press.
Doctor? – In 1946, the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials began.
Coal Power – In 1911, the Cross Mountain Mine disaster occurred.
YMCA – In 1851, the first Y in North America opened.

* “Charles Schulz crop 1993” by Unknown – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ocarchives/5486872977/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_Schulz_crop_1993.jpg#/media/File:Charles_Schulz_crop_1993.jpg

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