Charles Schulz may no longer be with us, but his legendary Peanuts cartoons are still going strong. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Schroeder, Franklin, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and Sally are still warming our hearts and entertaining us with their innocent adventures all these years later. However, just like any legendary cultural phenomenon, there are things about the Peanuts cartoons and characters that very few people know anything about. To that end, we have put together a list of little-known facts about the Peanuts gang, their universe, and how they became and remained such an amazing cultural phenomenon.
Charles Schulz Himself Was The Basis For His Characters
It should come as no surprise that, like most artists, Charles Schulz put a bit of himself into his beloved Peanuts characters. This is specifically true of the title character and his famously adventurous dog, Snoopy. Many details about the origins of the famous comic strip are coming out now that there is a book out regarding the new Peanuts movie.
Craig Schulz says in the book, The Art and Making of the Peanuts Movie, of his father’s connection to the characters, “We always say that each of the characters represents a piece of our dad. Charlie Brown was his real self, while Snoopy was what he wanted to be.”
Schulz Was Not An Immediate Fan Of The Name “Peanuts”
The people around the world who have come to love the Peanuts gang, be it in its original comic strip form, in its television specials, or the Macy’s Day Parade, the name of the strip has always been Peanuts. However, it did not start that way at all.
Charles Schulz originally called his beloved comic strip “Li’L Folks.” But when it came time to introduce his characters to the rest of the world via a publishing contract with United Feature Syndicate, they thought it bore to close a resemblance to strips that were already running. So, Schulz was stuck with the name Peanuts. Despite its success, he never liked the name, believing it made his strip seem, quote, “insignificant.”
Schulz Created The Strips Right Up Until His Death
Most people don’t know how many Peanuts strips there are; after all, this is a universe whose creation that literally spanned fifty years. Further, television specials and other merchandise seem both endless and timeless. There is one thing about the Peanuts comic strip that isn’t completely endless though: The creation of new comic strips.
That is not for lack of demand or lack of desire on the part of Charles Schulz, though. Schulz literally created new strips right up until his death. The last strip ran just one day after his death from colon cancer. He passes away at the age of 77.
Yes, The Exact Number Of Peanuts Comic Strips Is Known
The Peanuts comic strip was syndicated for a very long time, running from 1950 until 2000. It was initially in newspapers in the United States, but a year before Schulz’s death in 1999, the strips had been syndicated in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries.
There are 17,787 original Peanuts comic strips. The strips still appear the comic sections of newspapers in America and around the world, but the hope of making another original newspaper strip died with the Peanuts’ gang’s iconic creator. After all, there is nothing like an original creation, and it wouldn’t be the same without Charles Schulz.
The Original Comic Strip Did Not Include Some Of The Most Beloved Characters
When most people think of Peanuts in modern times, they think of the colorful comic strips in the back of the Sunday paper that includes all our favorites. Charlie Brown, Linus, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Franklin, Schroeder, Lucy, Sally, and of course, Snoopy and the birdie wrap us in a warm blanket of nostalgia. The Peanuts cartoon that we all know and love wasn’t always what it is now, though.
The original included only Shermy, Patty (not our beloved Peppermint Patty) and Charlie Brown himself. All the others were gradually added years later, to eventually create the modern version of the Peanuts comic strip.
Lucy Was Not Always Charlie Brown’s Classmate
Lucy Van Pelt, with her domineering, almost authoritarian hold over the Peanuts friend group, is a fan favorite. However, what a lot of people do not know is that she was not always conceptualized as such. Lucy was initially much younger than Charlie Brown and the others – she was a toddler.
However, Lucy was later aged up into Charlie Brown’s peer group, thus giving her iconic bossiness and control over the gang a credibility boost. Likely, things like her psychiatric booth in A Charlie Brown Christmas never would have materialized had Lucy remained a toddler.
Linus Evolved Just Like Lucy Did
Linus was, of course, Lucy’s younger brother. Part of the hallmark of his character was that he constantly sucked on his thumb, and always had his blanket with him. He was Charlie Brown’s friend and a frequent annoyance to his older sister.
However, there is one thing that many loyal readers of the strip may not know: It took Linus quite a while to utter so much as one word after his introduction to the comic. Linus was introduced in September 1952, and it would be another two years before Schulz developed the character enough to give him a speaking line.
Franklin’s Introduction In 1968 Was Very Controversial
These days, a cartoon or any other form of media is expected to feature people of all backgrounds. This was not so when the original Peanuts cartoon was in its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. Therefore, in July 1968, when Franklin, the only African American member of the Peanuts, it was a pretty big deal. There were letters written complaining about the fact that a black kid was playing with white kids.
It was perhaps the fact that Franklin, who was introduced when he got Charlie Brown’s lost beach ball back, was almost overly polite and wholesome that made him palatable to the masses during such racist times.
It Was Rachmaninoff, Not Beethoven, Who Wrote Schroeder’s First Peanuts Piece
Everyone knows that the young pianist Schroeder loves Beethoven. Schulz even slid a little Beethoven trivia into the character, by making Schroeder’s address 1770 James St., as Beethoven’s birth year was 1770. However, it was not Beethoven who wrote the very first piece Schroeder ever plays in a Peanuts television special, it was Rachmaninoff.
The piece was “Prelude in G Minor,” but most people do not know that. It is always assumed that it is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that Schroeder always plays. However, like most young pianists, he can play other artists’ music while still having a favorite.
The Comic Strip Never Actually Show’s Charlie Brown’s Crush
In the television special, It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, we get a glimpse of the little girl that Charlie Brown has a crush on. She is known as “the little red-haired girl,” presumably because Charlie Brown only admired her from afar, and is as clueless as to what her name is as we are. However, there is one other thing: She was never seen in the original Peanuts comic strip.
We see the silhouette of the girl, but she never is shown in full light, perhaps so that readers can use our imaginations a bit on this one – or perhaps because Charles Schulz did not want to expand Charlie Brown’s gang.
Snoopy Has His Own Walk Of Fame Star
Getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a pretty big deal. This honor is usually reserved for culturally significant entertainers or figures that made their mark on society in America and around the world. So, rest assured that those who choose the recipients of that coveted spot are pretty selective.
Therefore, it says a lot about the work of Charles Schulz that his beloved comic strip dog, Snoopy, has his own spot on the Walk of Fame! Of course, Schulz himself has a star as well. His brilliance and cultural influence are unrivaled in his field in many ways, and the honor is well-deserved.
Peanuts Almost Became An EGOT
If you think that Snoopy has his own star on the Walk of Fame is something, you’ll be blown away that the Peanuts comic strip and its spin-off projects almost earned the highest honor in Hollywood by becoming an EGOT.
EGOT is the acronym for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, which are the four highest awards honors offered in the respective areas of the professional entertainment industry. The Peanuts series won two Grammys, Four Emmys, Two Tonys, and an Oscar nomination. That is about as close as it gets to the full EGOT.
Just Two Kinds Of Heads Exist In The Peanuts Universe
The iconic Peanuts cartoons are all distinct characters, but there is a secret when it comes to drawing them: There are only two original head types in this universe. Charlie Brown and Sally have one head type, and Lucy and Linus have another.
This is about as close as we get to deliberate familial traits. The later characters are based on the head types of the originals: the Browns and the Van Pelts. Also, Charlie Brown’s head is notoriously difficult to draw, ironically enough. Apparently, one little mistake, and he no longer looks like Charlie Brown.
Snoopy’s Eyes Are NOT On Either Side Of His Face
Usually, the setup of drawing a dog face is similar to that of a human. The eyes are at the top on either side of the face, with the nose and the mouth following. Simple enough, right? Not in the Peanuts universe.
In the Peanuts original comic strip, Snoopy’s eyes are on not opposite sides of his face, but the same side. This was quite an interesting quagmire to work through in the CGI animated version of the strip.
CGI Charlie Brown Has A Full Head Of Hair (Sort Of)
CGI is a whole different medium from the one Charles Schulz drew in, of course. Therefore, it is a special kind of challenge to keep things as true as possible to the Peanuts comic. In this process, things are not always as they may seem. One example is Charlie Brown’s trademark single strand of hair.
Now, why a little boy would have just one strand of hair is beyond most people, but that is beside the point. In the comic, Charlie Brown gets one strand. In CGI, the one strand is actually 219 individual hairs to create the trademark curl.
A Charlie Brown Christmas Is Memorialized Everywhere
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of 45 Charlie Brown television specials and is easily one of the most iconic. The special is memorialized each year in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and is featured annually on television throughout the holiday season. Even the United States Postal Service has commemorated the 50th anniversary of the special with a stamp.
While Charlie Brown’s Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and so many more specials are iconic in their own right, there is nothing quite like the magic of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
From Newspaper To 3D
While Charles Schulz may no longer be with us, his son and grandson are. Therefore, they can carry the Peanuts legacy as far as cultural relevance and, of course, technology, allows them to go with it. Craig and Bryan Schulz helped write “The Peanuts Movie,” which is being done in CGI.
Although Charles Schulz drew up his comics in his own style, it’s likely that he’d enjoy his creation memorialized in 3-dimensional wonder as well, especially since his son and grandson helped.
The Peanuts Are Essential To The Macy’s Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City is likely the most-watched kickoff to the annual holiday season in the nation. Millions around the nation and world watch, and integral to the spectacle is, of course, the gigantic Peanuts balloons that glide above the crowd, helping to complete the magic of the parade.
Each year, parade attendees and spectators everywhere wait with bated breath to see whether the weather and winds will cooperate so that Snoopy and the gang get to fly. Even that anticipation is part of the magic of Peanuts.
Charlie Brown Had His Own High School Musical
Very few Millenials would know this, but Charlie Brown was once performed on an actual stage – in a musical that was popular in high school drama clubs. In 1967, the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, was brought to life on stage.
During that time, high school musical productions were much more commonplace in everyday public schools than they are now, and this one was quite popular for high school students to participate in. The musical’s staging was not at all costly, the musical itself is funny and entertaining, and it makes for a near-perfect amateur theater production. It’s still performed professionally around the world today.
Peanuts Immortalized Charles Schulz
Unfortunately, we lose cultural icons all the time. We think of them as larger than life, but at the end of the day, we’re only left with their work. However, it is hard to let go of them, even in death, when they so fundamentally, with the brilliance of their minds, changed our minds and culture forever.
Charles Schulz is no different. American culture was indeed shaped by his genius, and he will be forever missed. However, our friends in the Peanuts gang mean he will forever live on.