'Peanuts' TV special has a long history


December 19, 1990|By Steve McKerrow

Now here's a poser of a trivia question, prompted by tonight's re-airing of the classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (at 8:30, Channel 11): Who was president of the United States when this animated holiday treat first was seen on television?

Lyndon Baines Johnson, that's who, for this show premiered Dec. 9, 1965, as the initial animated adaptation of the "Peanuts" comic strip gang. Makes you feel old, right? But did you know the round-headed kid was already pretty old himself by the time he reached the tube?

In honor of the perpetual appeal of the creations of Charles Schulz, here's a short trivia test (with answers courtesy of wire sources, Fred L. Worth's "Super Trivia Encyclopedia" and Alex McNeil's "Total Television"):

1. When did Charlie Brown first appear in the "Peanuts" strip in newspapers?

2. Who were his original three companions? (You may be surprised.)

3. In what town and state do all the cartoon characters live?

4. When did "Peanuts" gain its first black character?

5. What actor first played Charlie Brown in the late 1960s stage play, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown?" (Hint: he would subsequently gain a major part in an enduring TV series hit.)

6. While the voice casts of succeeding "Peanuts" specials often change, one character's lines have been provided over the years by the same person. Can you guess?

(Pause here to think, and stay tuned for answers, below.)



1. Charlie Brown was at least 15 before he made it to TV, for the "Peanuts" comic strip debuted in seven newspapers on Oct. 2, 1950, a syndicated development of a strip Schulz had drawn since 1947 called "L'il Folks."

2. Charlie's original companion characters were Snoopy, Patty (not Peppermint Patty) and Sherman. (Surprisingly, siblings Lucy and Linus van Pelt did not arrive until 1952, after piano-playing Schroeder. Charlie's little sister, Sally, was born in 1959, and Snoopy's feathered companion, Woodstock, appeared in 1970.)

3. Charlie's home town is Sebastapol, Calif.

4. Franklin was the first black kid who moved into the neighborhood, in 1968.

5. On stage, Charlie was danced and sung by Gary Burghoff, who in 1972 would be in the premiere cast of "M*A*S*H" as company clerk Radar O'Reilly.

6. The voice of Snoopy has been provided by Bill Melendez, co-producer with Lee Mendelson of all the animated "Peanuts" adaptations.

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