One of the annual fall traditions in our home is watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” together. There’s something sadly reassuring about watching poor Charlie have the ball pulled out just as he’s about to kick it… and if he ever got anything other than rocks in his bag, I’d wonder where the world went wrong. Not that good ol’ Charles deserves to have a jack-o’-lantern face drawn on the back of his bald little head – it’s just that I find a little schadenfreude in the experience. Isn’t that why we watch? In honor of that fun tradition lets look at some behind the scenes trivia you may not realize about this whimsical timelessly classic show.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is an animated television special, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. It was the third Peanuts special (and first Halloween special) to be produced and animated by Bill Meléndez. Meléndez was a prolific animator, director and producer whos animation credits go back as far as Walt Disney’s Bambi film. Melédez is also the voice behind Snoopy and Woodstock . Its initial broadcast took place on October 27 on the CBS network, four days before Halloween in 1966.
There were just three major networks At the time and no other in-home media to directly challenge the television set. Still, for a virtually unknown character to have made such a lasting impact on society’s consciousness suggests the special source deserves more credit than a lack of competing entertainment.
Charlie Brown’s repeated line of “I got a rock”, caused some stir among many viewers of the show, according to Charles Schulz. After this special originally aired, children all over the country sent candy to Charlie Brown out of sympathy.
Actress Kathy Steinberg had almost finished recording all her lines of dialog as Sally when the producers received a phone call from Steinberg’s mother informing them that one of Kathy’s teeth was loose. Fearing that a sudden lisp would ruin the continuity dialogue, the producers rushed the young actress into the studio to finish recording her lines. Just as Steinberg was speaking her last line, the tooth came flying out of her mouth.
Now go watch this endering sweet Halloween treat and giggle thinking about the voice of Sally, Snoopy and Woodstock and imagine Charlie Brown receiving boxes of candy at the TV studio..