‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’: Kids Sent Candy To Charlie Brown for Years
Young viewers used to mail candy to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown creator Charles Schulz’s office, after being disappointed to learn that Charlie Brown only received a bag of rocks when he went trick-or-treating.
Schulz revealed that kids didn’t think it was fair that Charlie Brown’s friends got treats and he got tricks, or rocks in his bag. His office in California received candy addressed to Charlie Brown for years after the animated short debuted in 1966.
Animators debated about whether giving their main character rocks was too mean. “Sparky said that maybe we ought to have Charlie Brown get a rock,” producer Lee Mendelson said about a discussion he had with Schulz, he affectionately called “Sparky.”
“I said, ‘Oh, come on, that’s a little too harsh and cruel.’ But the more I protested, the more he wanted it,” Mendelson continued. “And after I protested more, Sparky said: ‘Okay, he’ll get three rocks!’”
The Halloween special hit a few speed bumps too
Anne Altieri, the young actor who took on the voices of Violet and Frieda actually threw up after she’d record the voices because she was so nervous.
Kathy Steinberg, who provided the voice for Sally had a loose front tooth during filming. Producers were worried the wiggly tooth changed Sally’s voice so she completed her part during one session at night. Steinberg’s tooth fell out the following day. She also struggled to pronounce the word, “restitution.” As a result, producers asked her to pronounce each syllable and then sound engineers strung the syllables into one word.
Meanwhile, the film’s music composer was arrested while he was naked. While working on the cartoon’s score, composer Vince Guaraldi was taking a shower and heard a noise outside his home. He went to investigate and got locked out. He then tried to climb through a window on the second floor. That’s when officers noticed the “naked burglar” and Guaraldi had a lot of explaining to do.
‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ included many ‘first’s’
Although the comic strip showed Lucy snatching the football away from Charlie Brown, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was the first time it played out on screen. Also, Snoopy had previously been featured as the World War I Flying Ace in the cartoon. That’s when animators brought his alter-ego to life as Snoopy’s Halloween costume.
Snoopy also started out on the special walking on all fours. “We realized [Snoopy] just had to stand on his two feet to make it more cartoony,” animator Bill Melendez said on It’s the Great Pumpkin: The Making of a Television Classic documentary.
Additionally, Town & Country notes that Lucy is reading a copy of the TV Guide with her picture on the front of it. The moment occurred while brother Linus penned his infamous letter to the Great Pumpkin.
While the timely cartoon won’t air this year on ABC, it is streaming on AppleTV+.