I had never heard the history behind the Peanuts Christmas Special.
I’m glad I have now.
The age old Christmas cartoon has always been a part of my Christmas season. Just like Rudolph and Frosty, it is a classic. A staple. It is embedded into our culture and it’s a joy to pass down to my kids as each Christmas comes and goes.
Did You Know?
Did you know the Peanuts Christmas Special almost didn’t happen?
The creator, Charles Shultz, stood up for what he believed. He was willing to sacrifice the entire thing, instead of losing what he thought to be the core of his creation.
He wasn’t willing to compromise.
USA Today has a full featured look, past to present, of the classic Christmas special.
When CBS bigwigs saw a rough cut of A Charlie Brown Christmas in November 1965, they hated it.
The experts hated it?
The Experts Hated It
The executive producer, Lee Mendelson remembers:
“They said it was slow.”
There were other worries, too, and Shultz wasn’t going to budge.
- There was no laugh track.
- There voices were provided by real children.
- The music was by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.
And worst of all, they had a kid with a lisp read straight from the Bible, Luke 2:8-14.
Straight from the Bible!
How dare they.
“We told Schulz, ‘Look, you can’t read from the Bible on network television,’ ” Mendelson says. “When we finished the show and watched it, Melendez and I looked at each other and I said, ‘We’ve ruined Charlie Brown.’ “
Did Charles Shultz give in to the experts?
Shultz’s wife was right when she said “there will always be a market for innocence.” The first broadcast captured almost 50% of the nation’s attention.
Everyone loved it.
As Sally Lloyd-Jones said about Shultz,
“Sometimes your job isn’t just to create something. It’s to fight for it.”
I’m glad he did.