One of the most well-known comic strips in the country made its debut on this day in 1950. From the its first strip to the last, which ran on February 13, 2000, its characters became some of the most ubiquitous in popular culture. It’s your birthday, Charlie Brown! Good grief!
Let’s take a look at the first appearance of Charlie Brown from 1950:
From his first appearance, “Good ol’ Charlie Brown” has been the kid that no one seemed to like, save for his best friend Linus (who wasn’t introduced for another two years) and his trusted beagle, Snoopy (who was introduced in the third strip, on October 4). In fact, the inaugural Peanuts strip may have been the first time that children were seen expressing hatred for another kid.
Despite not being very well liked by his classmates and losing pretty regularly at everything, Charlie Brown never was down for long.
The popularity of the daily newspaper strip led to the creation of the most enduring animated holiday specials, which still get played regularly today. In 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted. The following year, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown made its debut.
One of the most amazing things about the Peanuts comic strip and its cartoon specials was how freely creator Charles Schulz waded into social issues. Or, more accurately, made a point of treating kids of all stripes as equals. In the special Charlie Brown’s All-Stars from 1966, Charlie Brown would refuse sponsorship of his baseball team because the league didn’t allow girls or dogs to play, and Charlie Brown had three girls and a dog on his team.
In 1968, Schulz added Franklin, an African-American boy, to his cast of characters, after receiving a letter from a schoolteacher in Los Angeles.
With the popularity of the characters both in the newspaper strips and in animated specials, the brand had endured, even after Schulz’s death in 2000. About two dozen specials have been produced – and frequently replayed on TV – and the characters have frequently been used in ad campaigns.
Even today, the Peanuts legacy endures, with a new animated movie released to theaters in November 2015, which update the look of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the others to tell an original story written by Schulz’s heirs, that had frequent callbacks to the lore.
The Peanuts gang have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I’m looking forward to introducing them to my daughter, starting this month with The Great Pumpkin. So let’s all wish Good Ol’ Charlie Brown a Happy Birthday!