VA -- Richmond -- Virginia Museum of History and Culture (VMHC) -- Exhibit: Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!:
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Description of Pictures: Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!
Nov 23 2019 - Jan 12 2020
For millions of Americans, it really isn’t Christmas until they have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas at least once! This exhibition examines the making of this animated classic and celebrates the anticipation, joy, and pitfalls of the holiday season through fifty Peanuts daily and Sunday comic strips from the 1950s through the 1990s and over fifty vintage Peanuts-themed seasonal novelties, including ornaments, puzzles, and a 3-D version of the iconic spindly Christmas tree. In addition, you can see an officially released reproduction of an animation cel from A Charlie Brown Christmas of the Peanuts kids dancing and a documentary video about the making of the Christmas special that provides a special look into Schulz’s creative process. Get the whole family involved with activities like a Write a Letter to Santa station and a Make-Your-Own Comic Strip station.
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! is organized and toured by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! is sponsored by Katherine and Jack Nelson with their grandchildren Emerson, Nora, Timothy, and Reed.
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Copyrights: All pictures were taken by amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie (me!) who retains copyright on them. Free for non-commercial use with attribution. See the [Creative Commons] definition of what this means. "Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie" is fine for attribution. (Commercial use folks including AI scrapers can of course contact me.) Feel free to use in publications and pages with attribution but you don't have permission to sell the photos themselves. A free copy of any printed publication using any photographs is requested. Descriptive text, if any, is from a mixture of sources, quite frequently from signs at the location or from official web sites; copyrights, if any, are retained by their original owners.
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The celebration of holidays has become a perennial favorite of Peanuts' readers. Throughout the year, each season shines a spotlight on a holiday or celebration -- from Woodstock and Snoopy celebrating New Year's Eve, to Charlie Brown compulsively checking his mailbox for Valentines, to the Easter Beagle's joyful delivery of brightly painted eggs. The most magical season of each year, however, begins in the fall with Linus' wait for the Great Pumpkin at Halloween, continues with the Gang's often ill-fated attempts of togetherness at Thanksgiving, and concludes with their favorite holiday, Christmas!
Charles Schulz addressed most aspects of the holiday season, from the sometimes less-than-sincere letters to Santa to the post-Christmas blues, with his trademark wit and whimsy, allowing the rest of us to recognize and laugh at some of our holiday rituals and foibles. However, not all of Schulz's holiday strips are tongue-in-cheek. In several strips he brings a child's wonder, innocence, and sincerity to the Christmas story.
In Schulz's life, the Christmas season meant spending time with loved ones -- the more the merrier. One more at the table was always fine with him!
All the anticipation, joy, and pitfalls of the holiday season are creatively reflected in the Peanuts strips selected for this exhibition.
VHSCB_200102_017.JPG: The Schulz children, Meredith, Monte, and Craig and their second cousin Gretchen Gallup pose on the stairway to the Schulz's Minnesota home during a Christmas party in 1956.
VHSCB_200102_019.JPG: Charles and Jean Schulz (in the plaid shirt) cutting down their Christmas tree with friends Peter and Greta Larsen.
VHSCB_200102_022.JPG: Charles Schulz with friend Harriet Crossland during a Christmas celebration at the Schulz residence in 1981. Crossland baked cakes for the staff at Schulz's Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Schulz was extremely fond of Crossland's seven minute icing and memorialized her in the Peanuts strip by naming one of Woodstock's little bird friends, Harriet.
VHSCB_200102_029.JPG: This exhibition is sponsored by Emerson, Nora, Timothy and Reed with help from Grandma Kat and Grandpa Jack Nelson
VHSCB_200102_033.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
VHSCB_200102_038.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 14, 1954
VHSCB_200102_046.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 22, 1958
Writing letters to Santa is one of children's most cherished holiday traditions and it is crucial to the enterprise to adopt just the right tone. However, in Peanuts, as in life, we sometimes lose track of our good intentions, as Charlie Brown did in the strip from 1954 . And it appears that even Linus, usually the most sincere of the Peanuts characters, is trying to tug at Santa's heart strings just a little in the daily created four years later.
Many times Schulz captures the essence of childhood in Peanuts. In these strips, Charlie Brown's tongue protrudes from his mouth as he grapples with the effort of writing to Santa. During the 1950s and 1960s, Schulz was raising his five children which provided numerous opportunities to observe children's behavior and emotions firsthand.
VHSCB_200102_064.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 2, 1961
VHSCB_200102_073.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 23, 1965
Children always try to present themselves in the best possible light when writing their Christmas letters. Lucy makes a less successful effort in the first strip than the second, but in neither case is she fooling those who know her best. Note how effectively Schulz conveys Snoopy's amazement (in the second panel of the first strip) with a couple of quick pen lines. And in the following strip it appears Linus feels ill after reading his sister's sickeningly sweet letter.
VHSCB_200102_078.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * November 30, 1971
When Sally was added to the cast of characters in 1959, she was cute, usually clueless, and very often indignant about the vagaries of life. However, her character, like many others in Peanuts, evolved. In the later years, Sally was often acerbic and ironic, although in many cases just as oblivious about the world around her.
VHSCB_200102_085.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 1, 1999
VHSCB_200102_099.JPG: In The Making of a Tradition: A Charlie Brown Christmas, producer Lee Mendelson wrote that, during the 1964 holiday season, his family read Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree," a fairy tale about a sapling that longs for greatness. When it came time to create the 1965 television special, animator Bill Melendez suggested that they might "do something involving a tree." "Sparky [Schulz's nickname] immediately seized on that idea and said, 'We need a Charlie Brown-like tree.' "
And the rest is history. Charlie Brown's humble Christmas tree has become a holiday icon. People can immediately conjure up a picture in their mind when one refers to their "Charlie Brown tree."
VHSCB_200102_105.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 22, 1971
Half the fun of Christmas is the anticipation of the holiday. Children especially like to think about the gifts they might receive. Sometimes their expectations are just a little out of line with reality, but one can only hope that their Christmas wishes are dealt with in a more sensitive manner than are Sally's and Woodstock's.
VHSCB_200102_108.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * November 22, 1994
VHSCB_200102_115.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * November 20, 1976
Lucy's dogged pursuit of the Beethoven-obsessed Schroeder is only one example of the many cases of unrequited love in Peanuts. Schulz once remarked, "I don't know why there's so much unrequited love in my strip. I seem to be fascinated by unrequited love, if not obsessed by it... There's something funny about unrequited love -- I suppose it's because we can all identify with it. We've all been turned down by someone we love, and it's probably the most bitter blow in life."
The energy Lucy expands in trying to bully Schroeder into giving her a gift almost equals her single-minded, if hopeless, pursuit of his affections. Not being content to attempt to finagle gifts from him at Christmas, she also hounds him every December 16th on Beethoven's birthday. Lucy has a difficult time understanding why Beethoven's birthday is not celebrated with presents "for girls."
VHSCB_200102_118.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 3, 1979
VHSCB_200102_124.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 4, 1979
VHSCB_200102_127.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 8, 1979
Linus' hair (first panel of the bottom strip), like Snoopy's ears, are an accurate barometer of the character's feelings. In the case of Linus, his hair-standing-on-end look conveys alarm or fright, most often occurring when either Lucy or Snoopy is attempting to separate him from his much beloved security blanket.
VHSCB_200102_132.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 11, 1977
The Cat Who Lives Next Door, Snoopy's worthy adversary, is a character that is never seen in the comic strip. Schulz believed that there are certain characters, like the Cat Who Lives Next Door and the Little Red-Haired Girl, who are best left to the reader's imagination. And, of course, Peanuts is an adult-free zone. Parents, teachers, principals, store clerks, and move ticket takers have all been banished from the strip. Schulz was often asked in interviews about his choice to leave adults out of the strip. "Adults," he said, "have been left out because they would intrude in a world where they could only be uncomfortable. Adults are not needed in the Peanuts strips."
VHSCB_200102_138.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 23, 1988
Schulz often commented in the strip about adult expectations -- assigned books to read during summer vacations, class projects to do over winter holidays, and, of course, school plays and concert recitals -- that took some of the enjoyment and spontaneity out of childhood.
In the final panel of the second strip, Marcie cattily asks Peppermint Patty if she is "slouching toward Bethlehem," an excerpt that Schulz almost certainly took from the 1920 poem "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats. Schulz also quoted from this poem in the April 6, 1993 Peanuts strip when Schroeder, the catcher, tells pitcher Charlie Brown in the middle of a baseball game, "things gall apart, the center cannot hold." Schulz was a voracious reader who often included literary references in the comic strip.
VHSCB_200102_140.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 24, 1988
VHSCB_200102_146.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 24, 1979
Schulz once explained "I am not sure, but I believe that in addition to being the first cartoonist to use musical scores in my comic strip, I am also the first to use extensive theological references. I have done this in spite of severe criticism from people who have written to me saying that it is a desecration of the scriptures to quote them in 'such lowly a thing as a newspaper comic strip' ... These scriptural references have always been done with dignity and, of course, with much love, for I am extremely fond of studying both the Old and New Testaments."
VHSCB_200102_149.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 25. 1984
VHSCB_200102_155.JPG: The Christmas tree ornaments include items from the Musician series (1976), Junk Food series (1982), and Transportation series (1977) -- all manufactured by Determined Productions, Inc. -- and from a character series produced for the Danbury Mint (1991-1993).
Determined Productions, Inc., produced one of the first Peanuts-themed products, the 1962 Peanuts Date Book. Connie Boucher, the company's dynamic founder, was a stickler for details and never launched a product that wasn't of the highest quality with a well-thought-out marketing plan.
VHSCB_200102_163.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 9, 1981
Sally is intensely interested in Christmas -- when it's all about her. Otherwise her Christmas spirit tends to flag quite noticeably.
VHSCB_200102_166.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * November 27, 1995
VHSCB_200102_170.JPG: The First Animated Special:
"A Charlie Brown Christmas"
VHSCB_200102_177.JPG: Peter Robbins (left), age eight and a half, voiced the part of Charlie Brown in the special and Christopher Shea (right), age seven, was the voice of Linus. It was considered risky at the time to use child actors to provide the character's voice. Prior to A Charlie Brown Christmas, adults usually read children's parts in animated specials. Using child actors did present some unique challenges -- some of the actors did not read or did not read well and had to be "fed" their lines a couple of words at a time by director Bill Melendez.
Peter Robbins (actor)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peter Robbins (born Louis Nanasi, August 10, 1956) is an American former child actor, voice actor and real estate broker. Robbins earned national fame in the 1960s as being the first actor to voice Charlie Brown in the Peanuts films and television specials. Robbins left the entertainment industry as an adult, later pursuing a career in real estate and brief stints in radio. Robbins spent much of the 2010s in legal trouble facing charges from threats and stalking; he served a four-year sentence in prison.
[Note: Chris Shea died in 2010, age 52.]
VHSCB_200102_180.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 22, 1992
VHSCB_200102_182.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * November 12, 1999
VHSCB_200102_189.JPG: Peanuts-themed Christmas products are much anticipated each year by collectors and the general public alike. Manufacturers are highly creative in adapting Schulz's art to three-dimensional products as these objects demonstrate. Older products, in particular, have become highly collectible.
VHSCB_200102_202.JPG: Peanuts-themed Christmas products are much anticipated each year by collectors and the general public alike. Manufacturers are highly creative in adapting Schulz's art to three-dimensional products as these objects demonstrate. Older products, in particular, have become highly collectible.
VHSCB_200102_217.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 5, 1963
Schulz on occasion has had a little fun at the expense of the East Coast "establishment." Here Lucy proclaims that Santa is financed by a "big Eastern chain," while in the animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas the characters refer to the nefarious "Eastern syndicate." Schulz may have been gently "yanking the chain" of some of the executives at United Feature Syndicate of New York City, the company the syndicated the Peanuts comic strip.
VHSCB_200102_220.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 6, 1963
VHSCB_200102_224.JPG: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Scene 38, "Quiet on the Set"
Limited edition animation cel
Bill Melendez Productions Studio, 2005
Very few original animation cels from A Charlie Brown Christmas have survived the intervening 40 plus years since the special was created. This cel was recreated from the original animation line drawing produced by Bill Melendez Productions Studio.
VHSCB_200102_229.JPG: "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
An Immediate and Enduring Success
VHSCB_200102_232.JPG: Charles Schulz accepting the Emmy award in 1966 for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Producer Lee Mendelson is on the left and animator/director Bill Melendez is on the right.
VHSCB_200102_236.JPG: Against some very tough competition, A Charlie Brown Christmas was the second most popular show on television when it debuted on December 9, 1965. Note the "classic" television series of the time which the special was up against.
VHSCB_200102_250.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 24, 1970
Sally struggles with her belief in Santa Claus, but it is certainly the case that the Jolly Old St. Nick in the second strip would strain the conviction of even the most ardent believer.
VHSCB_200102_253.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 23, 1989
VHSCB_200102_259.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 5, 1976
Schulz is credited with pioneering the concept of casting his comic strip with a large group of characters with well-developed personalities. "I have always believed," Schulz wrote in 1975, "that you not only cast a strip to enable characters to do things you want them to, but that the characters themselves, by their very nature and personality, should provide you with ideas. ... The more distinct the personalities are, the better the feature will be. Readers can then respond to the characters as though they were real." Over the years, the "wishy-washiness" of Charlie Brown's personality provided endless fodder for Peanuts strips.
VHSCB_200102_265.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 24, 1978
The Beagle Scout was one of more than a hundred personas that Snoopy assumed over the years. Arriving on the scene in May 1974, the scout leader motif allowed Schulz to explore the "great outdoors," the role of leadership, and to employ his underused bird characters. This Sunday strip from 1978 makes perfect sense once one knows that a running gag in Peanuts is the Beagle Scout's penchant for getting lost and leading his troop on outrageously wild goose chases.
VHSCB_200102_274.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 18, 1973
VHSCB_200102_277.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 25, 1973
VHSCB_200102_284.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 28, 1974
VHSCB_200102_287.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 25, 1974
It is Peanuts strips such as these two that leave people in awe of Schulz' creative genius. Although Schulz attempted to explain on numerous occasions where he got his ideas for the Peanuts strip, he was never able to describe it to his satisfaction. More than likely it is something that can not be explained -- who else could create this scenario of Woodstock and the bicycle.
VHSCB_200102_295.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 28, 1972
Unlike Lucy's assertion, post-Christmas letdown can be experienced by the sensitive and insensitive alike. Some people feel blue when they realize they will have to wait and entire year to again experience the music, the decorations, and the spirit of the season. For others, the post-Christmas letdown is coming to terms with the feeling that they have over-indulged in eating or spending.
VHSCB_200102_298.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 28, 1987
VHSCB_200102_303.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 28, 1984
Schulz expressed on occasion that adults forget what it's like to be children who have to contend with bullies on the playground and the sometimes arbitrary nature of grades and discipline in elementary school. He most often employed Peppermint Patty and Sally to explain children's lives at school.
VHSCB_200102_307.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * January 9, 1985
VHSCB_200102_311.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * January 12, 1985
VHSCB_200102_313.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * January 17, 1985
VHSCB_200102_318.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 30, 1984
Snoopy and Woodstock have been one of the most successful twosomes in comic strip history. Very often the dynamic duo of Woodstock and Snoopy can be found celebrating the holidays together. Thanksgiving can be a traumatic holiday for Woodstock, but New Year's Eve frequently finds Woodstock and Snoopy toasting the coming year and "quaffing" large amounts of root beer.
VHSCB_200102_328.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 26, 1992
Sally is not much more gracious in writing thank you letters than she is when writing her letters to Santa. Although to give Sally her due, she is very prompt in writing her thank you letters these two years. In the October 30, 1986 daily strip, she was writing her thank you letters for 1980!
VHSCB_200102_330.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 28, 1998
VHSCB_200102_335.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * January 4, 1980
In the first strip, Schulz achieves a remarkable degree of expressiveness by employing what are essentially two commas for Snoopy's eyes. In the second strip, the half circles that surround Lucy's eyes aid in the depiction of some very fierce emotion in the first and second panels. When Lucy was first introduced Schulz drew her with perfectly round, large eyes but soon recognized the flaw in that design. He kept the half circle around her eyes, however, and that became the standard for all the Van Pelt children: Lucy, Linus, and Rerun.
VHSCB_200102_338.JPG: Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts * December 29, 1989
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