I’ve seen Casablanca more than 10 times and I love the movie for its sharp lines and ever captivating Bogart-Bergman pairing playing out a love story set in the chaos of Morroco during WWII. The film premiered on Nov 26, 1942 and remains a classic movie today.
Coincidentally, It is also the 90th anniversary of Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz. He passed in 2000 but the characters he created continue to be favorites among adults and children. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a popular favorite that I hope will continue to be loved by kids through the decades.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Woodstock are the classic lovable characters. But for me, it is perhaps Linus and Lucy who reached out to many others. Nervous Linus with his blankie helped all children to know it’s ok to have fears and to help cope with those fears. Strong headed Lucy plays out girls and women with a mind of their own.
So, here’s celebrating a great movie and a great creator and set of characters who will last through time!
In celebration, here’s 10 interesting facts about Schulz and his Peanuts family:
* Schulz’s nickname, Sparky, came from a comic strip. According to Animation World Magazine, the cartoonist’s uncle called him “Sparky” after the horse Spark Plug in the comic strip Barney Google.
* Peanuts debuted in seven newspapers on Oct. 2, 1950. According to the New York Times, by the mid-1990s, Schulz’s iconic comic strip was printed in more than a dozen languages, including Arabic, Croatian, Mandarin, Japanese, German, and French, where the strip is called “Snoopy et les Peanuts.” By 2000, Peanuts appeared in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and in 21 languages.
* Schulz was very picky about his pens. According to the Charles Schulz Museum, Schulz used a Speedball C-5 pen and for lettering, and for drawing the strip he used an Esterbrook 914 radio pen. He later bought out the company’s entire inventory of nibs when he learned they were going out of business.
* Charlie Brown’s longtime crush on the Little Red-haired Girl was inspired by Schulz’s real life rejection. In 1950, Schulz’s old flame, Donna Johnson Wold, broke up with him and married a fireman two months later. In 1989 she told People that while she always knew the never-seen character was based on her, she told few friends. “It’s a real hard thing to work into a conversation,” she said.
* The 1966 animated television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” famously featured several passages from the New Testament. Executive producer Lee Mendelson told the Washington Post that Schulz was adamant about including the biblical text in the script, saying, “If we don’t do it, who will?” Mendelson called Linus’ reading from the Book of Luke “the most magical two minutes in all of TV animation.”
* Peter Robbins, who voiced the character of Charlie Brown in the early Peanuts TV specials (including the 1966 Christmas classic) eventually lost the role when he hit puberty. According to NPR, today the former child actor manages real estate and has a dog named Snoopy.
* A Peanuts character balloon has been featured in every Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since the debut of the Aviator Snoopy balloon in 1968. Since then there has been a series of gigantic beagle balloons, including Skating Snoopy, Astronaut Snoopy, Millennium Snoopy and Flying Ace Snoopy. In 2012, Charlie Brown took to the skies via the “Charlie Brown and the Elusive Football” balloon.
* According to People, Schulz had a dislike for cats and anything coconut, and he avoided overnight trips and public speaking. In his later years he enjoyed skating in a senior hockey league and playing golf.
* On May 27, 2000, Schulz was posthumously honored by the National Cartoonists Society with a Lifetime Achievement Award. More than 40 fellow comic strip creators including Cathy Guisewite (“Cathy”), Jim Davis (“Garfield”) and Hank Ketchum (“Dennis the Menace”) paid tribute to Schulz by mentioning his Peanuts characters in their comic strip on that day. You can see the tribute strips here.
* Eight U.S. amusement parks boast a Peanuts-themed section called Planet Snoopy. In 2011 Dorney Park and Wild Water Kingdom in Allentown, Pa., debuted the $8 million Peanuts tribute, which features 3 1/2 acres of Peanuts-themed attractions, including live-action characters from the series and sixteen rides like Snoopy’s Flying Ace and Linus Launcher. Other Planet Snoopy sites include Cedar Point and King’s Island in Ohio, and California’s Great America.