“A Charlie Brown Christmas” Celebrates 50 Years

Charlie_Brown_Xmas_treeFew people expected the Charlie Brown Christmas television special to amount to much (be very successful). When the producers (people responsible for it) watched it for the first time, they worried. Two CBS television executives watched it in what one writer calls “stony (quiet, not moving, like a stone) silence.” At the end, one of them said to the producers, “Well, you gave it a good try.”

That was 1965. This year we celebrate 50 years of success for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Peanuts comic strip had become so popular by the middle of the 1960s that Coca-Cola hired Lee Mendelson to produce (create, make) an animated (action cartoon) special to be shown on the CBS television network at Christmas. Charles Schulz, Peanuts’ creator, agreed to write the story.

Schulz wanted to tell a simple story that included childhood memories of snow, ice-skating, and school Christmas plays (performances of music and stories). He also wanted to say something about the true meaning of Christmas and insisted on including the Christmas story from the Bible saying, “If we don’t [tell the story], who will?”

The story includes Charlie Brown and his friends from the Peanuts comic strip. In it, it’s Christmas time, and Charlie Brown is unhappy. Lucy suggests that he produce a Christmas play. He tries, but no one cooperates with him. And the only tree he can find to decorate the stage (where actors perform) is small and ugly. The other children, especially the girls, laugh at him.

Charlie gets upset and asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. Linus comes to the center of the stage, stands there alone, and recites (tells from memory) the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. When he finishes, he turns and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Near the end of the story, Charlie’s friends change their minds, and help him decorate his little tree.

Several things made A Charlie Brown Christmas unusual in 1965. First, the producers used child actors for the voices. Second, the music was written and performed by a jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi. Finally, they didn’t use a laugh track – prerecorded laughter that could be added to the program wherever the producers felt it was needed. It felt and sounded very different from other programs of that time.

Those who worried about A Charlie Brown Christmas shouldn’t have. The first year, 45% of the people watching television that night watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has become an American Christmas tradition, along with movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. It received an Emmy (award for outstanding TV programs) in 1966, and the music was voted into the Grammy (music award) Hall of Fame in 2007.

Two people were right about the future of A Charlie Brown Christmas at the beginning. When the producers told Schulz about their worries, he told them not to worry, “It’s going to be fine.” And one of the artists who worked on the special told the producers they were crazy to worry about the special. “This is going to run for 100 years!” He may be right.

You can find the music and parts of the special on YouTube and at the iTunes store.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Source credit: Los Angeles Times.
 Photo of Charlie and Linus comes from Wikipedia Commons.

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21 Responses to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Celebrates 50 Years

  1. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Very good story, Warren. Thanks.

  2. peter says:

    Hi Warren ,
    How about that!

    I have always thought Charly Brown Christmass is a spinoff of peanut comic strip.
    U know , the most popular character in peanut comic strip in the papers is snoopy.

    I used to read comic strips on the papers they cracked me up. Well , not anymore. I have outgrown them. I lost interest over time.
    U know ,
    I used to read every edition of Archie ,Betty and vernica too. My favourit character in the comic book series was Jughead Jones with his insatiable appetite and kickback attitude. :)))
    I outgrew them too. Well ,at times ,I pick one or two while at a book store and go through pages. But, it ends there.

    They always put them on eye-level shelves by the cash register.
    Technically Speaking ,it is the best place they could be. They catch the eyes of kids as they are inching forward in line waiting ,with their parents, for their turn at the checkout counter.

    I didn’t know that Charlie Brown Christmass is celebrating a milestone birthday this year.
    Half a century.
    It is quite something.
    Right ?
    Who would have thought a simple comic program was gonna last this long.

    One quick question ,though

    I m wondering if Charles Brown Christmas would be considered as the brain child of Charles M. Schulz or somebody else gets all the credit.

    Some might wonder!


  3. Dan says:

    Thanks Warren.

    I am not sure, I may have told you guys about this video before, but since I liked it, I am going to remember it again.
    A side for the original try to watch: A Charlie Brown Heavy Metal Christmas.
    It’s a short video. About 2 minutes. It makes me laugh which is always a good thing.
    One more thing, turn the volume UP.


  4. Thiago Messias says:

    That is simply awesome

  5. peter says:

    Morning fellas,
    One of the characters in Chalie Brown’s inner circle of friends has a striking similarity with my friend Cam.
    Well,her reall name is Camilla.her close friends call her by Cam.
    Camilla is too long a name. Don’t u think ?:)
    She ,too ,has attitude and always keep this stern face.
    No worries guy. It is not like That I m a big gossip Ill-speaking of my friends.We always say all this to her face.
    She is a big nag who find fault with everything.:)))
    U know , there is this bar we hang out in ,regularly after work. Well, it is not that we plan to go there. We just find one another at work set up a time to go there and chill after work.
    Well , it is our ad hoc place too. By that I mean , We go to the bar for specific events too like birthdays , Christmas ,new year eve and etc.
    The point is,we frequent there enough that almost all waiters waiting tables there are familiar with us.
    They know our group.
    U know , Every time we go over there we wait forever to get a waiter to waite our table. Literally , no waiter would like to serve us willingly solely because she gives them attitiude. She gives them a hard time.i m telling you. We always end up leaving big tip as make up for her boorish behaviour , some might say.
    Don’t get me wrong folks. She is not all bad.
    She is not a horrible person or anything. She is just picky about her food and they way it is prepared.
    U know , in core ,she is a good person.

    She is dependable.she has a big heart.
    Everytime we have a problem on hand, she always there to give us a hand.
    Well , in all fairness ,we all have quirks. We all have ups and downs.
    The moral lesson here is that we should accept our friends for who they are.
    Trust me ,it is not a one way street.:)
    I bet ,she can give you guys an earful about me too.


  6. Tania says:

    Thank you Emiliano as you are with us again. Please write more as we are worried about you.
    Really I’d like to be with you in Madrid. You have such a big heart…

    Thank you dear Lili as you did not forget me. Indeed I was and I am very busy at my job.
    I have lost many, many English lessons and my English knowledges are not very solid.
    I am very sorry as my link , my connection with you all can be affected.

    I love you all,


  7. Tania says:

    Instead I am reading Learn English Magazine, a very good magazine.
    I’d like to continue writing about Jazz – the ultimate in naked communication, maybe about
    symphonic rock being trendy today. At least on my knowledges.
    Thank you.

  8. emiliano says:

    Tania, thanks again, one of my best friends here in the blog.
    As I said before, I am O.K., is not Cuca who is not o.k., she
    is suffering day after day and she needs me a lot. Now that
    she spends too much time in bed she needs to have me at
    her side, just talking or being present. She doesn´t say me
    anything, let me be which ever place I would like but I know
    she is happy having me close near our bed. Talking or reading
    something for her.

    That´s all my dear good friend Tania.
    Yes, it could be great to have you here in Madrid at home
    and could say to you……..hi Tania how are you dear?

    My sister Esther who is now ill with a cancer needs the
    help of a nice, very nice girl and her family in the house
    residence where she is since six years.
    The name of the girl is Daniela and as you she and her
    family are from Romania, like you, near the forest and
    the mountains.,
    When I have been at the hospital, Danila drive me to
    home and we talk just a lot.
    She likes my sister Esther, and take care of her just
    without any interest.
    Despite her job is taking care of old people in the residence
    she doesn´t want a single euro by going to see and going
    to help Esther in the hospital or being with her to make
    all kind of medical tests.

    Yes, Daniela, the Romanian girl is like an angel to my
    sister who is very ill and lonely in the residence.
    I can´t take her with me as looking after Cuca is my
    priority always.

    Bye dear Tania. emiliano

  9. emiliano says:

    Tania, Lily or which ever person who reads this blog, if you like to be
    in touch with me, just write me to my mail


    I will be vere pleased receiving some news from you, now that my time
    is shorter and I can´t write here so much as I did before.

    Tania, if you are coming here please tell me.


  10. peter says:

    I don’t know how to express my condolence the the friends and family members of the horrendous tragedy that went down in San Bernardino.
    It was a ruthless act of violence.
    My heart goes out to the victims of the tragic event.

    Mr President

    Enough with the talk. Get the guns off the street.


  11. peter says:

    I don’t know if it happens in your part of the world. In the part where I live, Starbucks starts a promotion every year as Christmass is closing in.
    The promotion is cheered and loved by customers ,and I m guessing that it is safe to presume that it is dreaded by Starbucks staff since the holiday treat lures more customers in : a looming thought in the back of every Starbucks staff’s head:))))

    The annual promotion of “2 for 1 “holiday beverage must have been starting any day now.
    U pay for one drink and get another for free which is a good deal for couples.
    Well ,as u must have realized by know, I m flying solo which creates a big dilemma. ;)))
    U know ,i m a one-cup-of-coffe-at-a-time kind of guy. I never go for two cups of coffee in one sitting.it would get me all hopped up.
    However , the promotion is very tempting.
    I mean , just tell me what person ,in a sound mind, pass up a free Beverage that comes with their first order of beverage.:))
    Can u see what troubling me? :)))
    I m telling u ,It has been on my mind for quite sometime:))))
    No ,I m dead serious
    Now that I don’t have a girlfriend to share it with. Whom can I share the extra mug of coffee with?


  12. peter says:

    U know what I like about our blog best?
    The fact that we have known eachother through the lines we are sharing here. We never met in a physical sense.
    We met ,though , cognitively through sharing thoughts and stand points.
    By that I mean I know u and u know me as our thoughts here on this very page reflect our personality.
    You see what I mean.
    U never put a face on me but definitely u associate some sort if charactor with me.
    For example I m a person who is able to laugh at myself.
    At least it is how my friends see me. I don’t know
    One thing I know for sure though, is that I m still struggling to find my funny bone.
    U know what I mean
    We have known eachother though our lines
    Which is a cool way, to me


  13. peter says:

    Speaking of humour ,What did the football coach say to the broken vending machine? Give me my quarterback!:))))))


  14. Dan says:

    Hello everyone.

    Hey Pete.
    There are no Starbucks in Italy.
    That doesn’t make a difference because I would not go there anyway.

    About that extra cup, I was thinking that I would make good use of that
    asking someone in the store to join me in order to get the free beverage.

    Would you do that for me once? And then writing here the outcome?
    Like a social experiment.

    It is a good way for meeting someone, but make sure not to tell the quarterback joke…..NO…I am kidding right now, that wasn’t bad.:-)


  15. peter says:

    All aboard on mothership ,
    Jedi fleet just passed the Mars.
    They are joining the star war confederate navy on the screen of every movie theater on earth in two week time to restore balance in the Forces.

    Be vigilant and join the republic navy on Dec 18 in a movie theather near you.

    All the forces be with you.

    The fledging Jedi apprentice


  16. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    I didn’t know you were a joke teller, Pete. Are you? Do you make money telling joke? Tell me where so that I can go there and watch you.

  17. peter says:

    The righteous fury being felt specially by the family members of the victims of the recent massacre in the U.S could be all avoided if the people at the high political office place priority on people’s safety than prosperity for some certain industry
    As an act of solidarity people holding vigilance this weekend to commemorate the victims who lost their lives in this barbaric act of a savagery. Join them in their sorrow.


  18. peter says:

    Hey Dan,

    I appreciated the insight !!
    However ,there is a technical difficulty in the plan. I have no interest in asking guys to join me for a cup of joe. :))
    U know , It may send a wrong message :)))))
    And , girls might view it a bit too forward For a big guy like me going up straight to them and asking them to join me.:)
    U know , chances are , I wouldn’t get the reaction I like from girls.;))) If u catch my drift.

    Thanks for the input though !!!


  19. peter says:

    You ate too kind my friend.
    Well , according to my friend , I have a good sense of humour but I m not funny.

    So , if u go by them ,I m not a jokester my good man.

    Well , honest , it is a very popular joke around here.
    So , If anything ,i m a hack not a jokester.:)
    Let me tell you this ,It takes a lot of practice ,a lot of talent , and a lot of spirit to go up on the stage and make people laugh.
    It is not just me. I, for one thing ,have a bad case of stage fright!!!

    I m happy that you find it funny, though.


  20. peter says:

    I couldn’t help but notice that nowadays even journalist in the most reputable and prestged newspapers out there starting treating ” impact ” as a verb.
    First it felt outrages to me. However , as I always dibke check my findings, I looked it up.
    Guess what !!!
    To my disbelief , I found that even dictionary defines ” impact ” as verb.
    I must say , I don’t like to treat ” impact ” as a verb. It feels weired and unfamiliar.
    I was almost certain that “impact ” is noun and only noun.
    Well , my stump speech :)) about ” impact ” was always be that we can’t generally treat a noun as a verb just because it is easy.

    Well , admittedly , I was wrong all these years.
    It was so presumptuous of me.

    Still it feels weired though !!!!


  21. peter says:

    I m proud that Canada legislature body bans any form of public gun ownership. I mean , the use of guns by the public as a means of protection.
    U know , I think , at the end of the day , u always feel safer knowing that the next door neighbour is not bearing a gun. I , for one , feel safer that way.
    One less reason to keep me up at night :))
    You know , Easy access to guns , never feel me safer. If anything , there is always these unsettling feeling that People out there might own a bigger gun than me.
    You know what I mean.
    I personally don’t like guns. Generally , I m against any kind of violence. I m not a meek , but a peacful person.
    But , even an even keeled guy like me may go out of his way to purchase a gun to protect himself against the threats that are always out there due to the government -backed up right to gun ownership by individuals.
    It not a righteous act , that I can tell you.
    Frankly speaking , the fact that every nut- jobs out there can purchase a gun even easier than purschaing a car is very unsettling!!!
    The result would be 355 mass shooting in one year!!!
    I mean ,Come on !!
    What you were thinking ?

    Once it is banned , it is banned
    U feel safer , don’t you ?


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