A Charlie Brown Christmas

Can't believe I didn't post this story before. A Charlie Brown Christmas 30 minute television special has been my favorite holiday show since it's debut in 1965. Of course I am not alone, who doesn't love this show?

I just discovered that there is a book detailing the creation and production of this iconic tv show.

The book contains:Original animation art, a look at the behind -- the -- scenes making of the cartoon, Vince Guaraldi's original score and publication notes, Interviews with the original child actors. An introduction by the show's executive producer, Lee Mendelson

Bringing the Peanuts characters to television was not an easy task. The strip's creators, with funding from sponsor Coca-Cola, presented the CBS network with an idea for a Christmas television special starring Schulz's characters.

The production was done on a shoestring budget, resulting in a somewhat choppy animation style and, from a technical standpoint, poorly mixed sound. With the exception of the actors who voiced Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) and Lucy (Tracy Stratford), none of the children had any experience doing voice work.

Original Cast
Peter Robbins: Charlie Brown
Chris Shea: Linus van Pelt
Tracy Stratford: Lucy van Pelt
Cathy Steinberg: Sally Brown
Chris Doran: Schroeder and Shermy
Geoffrey Ornstein: Pig-Pen
Karen Mendelson: Patty
Sally Dryer: Violet Gray
Ann Altieri: Frieda
Bill Meléndez: Snoopy

This was especially challenging for Kathy Steinberg, who voiced Sally: she was too young to read and needed to be cued line by line during the soundtrack recording. The technical issues are in evidence on the show's audio track, which to some may seem noticeably choppy and poorly enunciated.

One of the more noticeable quirks in the special include a shot in which Schroeder abruptly stops playing the piano, but several of the characters continue dancing for a couple of seconds. (Who knew that was a mistake??) Melendez said he remained somewhat embarrassed to see the show repeated every year with all its problems, but Schulz vetoed his idea of "fixing" the program years later.

50% of the televisions in the United States were tuned to the first broadcast. A Charlie Brown Christmas won an Emmy and a Peabody award, and is a timeless Christmas holiday classic.

Charlie Brown with Linus van Pelt

The success of the animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas has given rise to the animated holiday special. Now there are about 10 classic animated holiday specials that sprung from this iconic show.

Vince Guaraldi

The musical soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, by jazz composer Vince Guaraldi, has become as well-known as the story itself. In particular, the instrumental "Linus and Lucy" has come to be regarded as the signature musical theme of the Peanuts specials.

Additionally "Christmas Time is Here" has become a popular Christmas tune. A soundtrack album for the special was released by Fantasy Records and remains a perennial best-seller. The popularity of the special is rumored to have practically eliminated the popularity of the aluminum Christmas tree.

A popular fad between 1958 and 1965, but because of the negative publicity the trees received in A Charlie Brown Christmas, quickly fell out of favor.

By 1967, just two years after the special aired, they were no longer being regularly manufactured.

Read More on RK: Christmas Collectible Dolls Aluminum Christmas Trees of the 1960s Obsessions of My Childhood More Fun Stuff: Interview with Lee Mendelson A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundclips A Charlie Brown Christmas: Tne Making of a Tradition


Kevin Fry said...

Best x-mas record Vince Guaraldi trio.

Diane Marie Molinari said...

I still watch it every year ♥

Mitch Wilcher said...

the best ever!!!

Ruth said...

Thank you so much for researching and saying where you got the info. I used it on my site since I was covering this today. So I have linked to your site.

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