• John Burghardt

55 years of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" Thank you Charles, Bill, Vince & Lee!

Updated: Dec 24, 2020

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" premiered on CBS television on December 9, 1965! This beautiful work of art was a collaborative fusion of art, music and spiritual vision!

Charles M. Schulz comic strip Peanuts debuted in 1950 and became a phenomenon by the the mid 1960's. When presented with a Peanuts-based Christmas special, Schulz's main goal was to focus on the true meaning of Christmas - "Peace on Earth, good will toward men!"

Bill Melendez was the only director that Schulz trusted to turn his comic strip creation into an animated television special. Melendez began his career as a character animator for Walt Disney Productions, with credits such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. Bill Melendez became a voice actor by creating the vocal effects for Snoopy and Woodstock and did so for every Peanuts production thereafter. The reason for this stroke of genius was because Charles Schulz could not envision Snoopy articulating English dialogue. "Good call Chuck!"

While driving home together from a meeting about a planned Peanuts documentary, producer Lee Mendelson and Schulz had found their musical muse as they listened to Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the radio. Vince Guaraldi was an American jazz pianist who was known for his innovative compostions was happy to accept the offer to work with Schulz and Co. After the success of the documentary, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, recorded A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack which contained the now classic songs "Christmas Time Is Here", "Skating", and "Linus and Lucy".