|Peanuts star character|
|First appearance||1947 (in Li'l Folks)
October 2, 1950 (comic strip)
|Last appearance||February 13, 2000 (comic strip)|
|Voiced by||Peter Robbins (1963–1969)
Chris Inglis (1971)
Chad Webber (1972–1973)
Todd Barbee (1973–1974)
Dylan Beach (1976)
Arrin Skelley (1977–1980)
Liam Martin (1978)
Michael Mandy (1980–1981)
Grant Wehr (1981)
Brad Kesten (1983-1985)
Michael Catalano (1983)
Brett Johnson (1984–1986)
Kevin Brando (1984-1985)
Chad Allen (1986)
Sean Collins (1986-1988)
Erin Chase (1988–1989)
Kaleb Henley (1990)
Phil Sanfran (1991)
Justin Shenkarow (1992)
Jamie E. Smith (1992)
Jimmy Guardino (1993)
Steven Hartman (1995-1997)
Christopher Ryan Johnson (2000)
Quinn Beswick (2000)
Wesley Singerman (2002–2003)
Adam Taylor Gordon (2003)
Spencer Robert Scott (2006)
Alex Ferris (2008-2009)
Trenton Rogers (2011)
|Family||Sally Brown (sister)
Charlie Brown is the central protagonist of the long-running comic strip Peanuts, syndicated in daily and Sunday newspapers in numerous countries all over the world. Like the majority of the other human characters in the strip, he often switches from typical child behavior to adult speech. One of the great American archetypes, he is a very round, multidimensional, well-received, and well-known cartoon character.
The character's creator, Charles M. Schulz, has said of the character that "[He] must be the one who suffers, because he is a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning."
The character, as Schulz frequently said and addressed, is inspired by some of his painful experiences in life.
- 1 Personality
- 2 Inspiration
- 3 History
- 4 Reception
- 5 References
Charlie Brown is a meek, gentle, kind-hearted character with many anxieties, and is depicted as being shy. He is a child possessed of significant determination and hope, but often fails due to his insecurities. Charlie Brown is always referred to by his full name (with the exception of Peppermint Patty who calls him 'Chuck,' and Marcie and Eudora who call him 'Charles') and his usual catchphrase is "good grief". Like Schulz, Charlie Brown is the son of a barber. The character is an example of "the great American un-success story" in that he fails in almost everything he does, with an almost continuous streak of bad luck, but tried with large efforts and work, resulting either in more losses or great victories; some of such victories are hitting a game-winning home run off a pitch by a minor character named Royanne on a strip from 1993, and his victory over Joe Agate (another minor character) in a game of marbles on a strip from 1995. Although Charlie Brown is often unlucky within the strip's storylines, in some ways Charles M. Schulz created through the ever-persevering character "the most shining example of the American success story in the comic strip field".
Charlie Brown cares very deeply for his family and friends, even if he was maltreated by them. His care for his sister is shown on a strip from May 26, 1959 (the strip in which his little sister Sally was born), when he exclaims: "A BABY SISTER?! I'M A FATHER! I mean my DAD's a father! I'M a brother! I have a baby sister! I'M a brother!" at her birth, and two strips later threw a celebration over it by handing over chocolate cigars to his friends. When Charlie Brown was maltreated by his companions (most often Lucy, Violet and Patty), he does not usually take out his anger on them, but often retaliates and even manages to turn the tables. An example is a strip from 1951, which features Violet and Patty telling Charlie Brown that they are not going to invite him to their party, with Charlie Brown replying that he does not wish to go their "dumb ol' party" anyway, leading the two girls to invite him.
Christopher Caldwell has stated that "What makes Charlie Brown such a rich character is that he's not purely a loser. The self-loathing that causes him so much anguish is decidedly not self-effacement. Charlie Brown is optimistic enough to think he can earn a sense of self-worth, and his willingness to do so by exposing himself to humiliations is the dramatic engine that drives the strip. The greatest of Charlie Brown's virtues is his resilience, which is to say his courage. Charlie Brown is ambitious. He manages the baseball team. He may be a loser, but he's, strangely, a leader at the same time. This makes his mood swings truly bipolar in their magnificence: he vacillates not between kinda happy and kinda unhappy, but between being a "hero" and being a "goat"."
The football-kicking theme
Another characteristic of the character, is his never getting a chance to kick a football, with one of the themes that recurred in the strip involving Charlie Brown attempting to kick a football before the ever-sadistic Lucy pulls it away to make him feel miserable and powerless. The two often talk, as Charlie Brown, being smart and knowing what she will do, often initially rejects the offer, but then appears to ultimately succumb to desperation and tries to kick the football. The humor of the strips with this theme, however, are not primarily slapstick, but rely on the circumstances surrounding the event. Furthermore, no two of such strips have the same formula, as Schulz varied them significantly. Since 1952, this football gag was featured once every year, usually during the autumn season (the years 1984, 1985 and 1990, for some unknown reasons, did not feature this gag.) This gag is often parodied in pop culture, especially in satires, frequently involving Charlie Brown kicking Lucy instead of the football, or other people hurting Lucy out of pity for Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown's baseball team
Charlie Brown was often shown to be the leader of a baseball team who frequently loses. His entire team is not skilled, especially his right fielder Lucy van Pelt who is the worst baseball player in the entire Peanuts universe. Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy was stated to be his best player, his best friend Linus was his second baseman, and his next closest friend Schroeder once commanded the team on Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) when Charlie Brown and Linus traveled to France. Charlie Brown is often hit by the same ball he pitched, resulting in him being stripped of all his clothes, with the exception of his shorts. Despite the fact that his team almost always loses, usually with a score of zero, he remained determined and acted as an ambitious commander of a team of players who often appeared to be uncooperative; aside from this, none of the other players seem to share his determination. His apparent admirable strength as a leader was shown in his scoldings and advice to his players; an example of his strict attitude was shown when he yelled at Lucy "Go back to right field where you belong!' when she once annoyed him. While the team frequently loses, it has some wins. While terrible misfortune has placed some of Charlie Brown's team's wins when Charlie Brown is not playing, there are times in which Charlie Brown has heroically led his team to championship.
Charlie Brown's involvements with love
Charlie Brown frequently becomes involved in love. His main love interest was dubbed "The Little Red-Haired Girl", as he didn't know her name or even talked to her. When he observes the Little Red-Haired Girl, he often did it by hiding behind an object, as he was too shy to let her even see his bald, round face. She was usually not shown, hidden outside the panel, and her only actual appearance was silhouetted. Most of the other girls call him "wishy-washy"; however, the characters Peppermint Patty and Marcie were both infatuated towards him. Peppermint Patty had delusions that Charlie Brown liked her, though Charlie Brown considered her as only a friend and, in fact, almost always oblivious towards her feelings for him. Examples of her delusions are her telling Charlie Brown on a Sunday Strip: "You kind of like me, don't you, Chuck?"; her saying on another Sunday strip that Charlie Brown "doesn't even understand who he likes"; her sending a Valentine to Charlie Brown that said "I know you like me." Marcie, on the other hand, was usually too shy to admit her feelings. However, she was sometimes shown as being able to confess her "fondness" for him. On the special There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown she told him about Peppermint Patty's crush on him, kissed Charlie Brown, and said "If you don't want it to come from me, think of it as having come from Peppermint Patty!"
From July 23, 1990 to July 11, 1999, Charlie Brown had a girlfriend named Peggy Jean. Charlie Brown was so nervous at meeting her that he introduced himself as "Brownie Charles', and his nervousness led him to even temporarily forget about the Little-Red Haired Girl. Initially uncomfortable about this, he quickly grew to like this nickname. On the same day they met, she offered to hold a football for Charlie Brown to kick, but was afraid that she will pull it away, and ended up not kicking it at all. Peggy Jean was initially upset that he did not trust her, but they made up, and said to Charlie Brown she loves him. The two then held hands, and kissed. The next panel showed Charlie Brown calling Linus to tell him that a pretty girl whom he adored actually kissed him, but the strip concluded by revealing that Lucy answered the phone, and she replied: "What is this, an obscene phone call??!!" Before they went home, Peggy Jean promised to write letters to him every day. However, Charlie Brown did not received any letters from Peggy Jean; it was revealed that they are addressed to "Brownie Charles" and that Sally had made the mailman return the letters to Peggy Jean as Sally thought there was no one in the household who had the name Brownie Charles. Charlie Brown then called her to apologize about all the letters returning to her house, and she replied that she was still thinking about him and promised that she will continue to write letters to him. A series of strips once showed that Charlie Brown wanted to give her gloves as a Christmas gift, but did not have enough money, leading Linus to suggest that Charlie Brown give her a card advising her to keep her hands in her pockets to protect them from the cold as a gift instead. Charlie Brown eventually decided to sell all his comic books to get enough money to buy the gloves. However, when he went to give them to her, her mother had already bought her the same sort of gloves, leading Charlie brown to give them to Snoopy so they wouldn't go to waste. Peggy Jean made her final appearance on the July 11, 1999 strip, when she told Charlie Brown that she has found another boyfriend, leaving Charlie Brown heartbroken.
On a series of strips from September 1994, Charlie Brown learned that his pen-pal was a girl named Morag from Scotland, and fantasized having a romance with her, but then learned that she had 30 other pen-pals.
Charlie Brown's kite-flying skills
Another one of Charlie Brown's characteristics is his inability to fly a kite. Almost every attempt to fly a kite resulted in failure, usually due to his nemesis, the Kite-Eating Tree, and his lack of skills was often commented on by other characters, most often Lucy. On the March 7–8, 1958 strips, Charlie Brown got his kite to fly into the air, but it spontaneously combusted, making his victory worthless.
Halloween and Valentine's Day
During Halloween, like other kids, Charlie Brown went trick-or-treating along with most of his friends. During this holiday, he always wore a ghost costume by making two oval holes on a white blanket to give the impression of a ghost with two hollow eyes. Sometimes, Charlie Brown wore this costume after Halloween, usually due to a screw-up, like his laundry coming in late. Charlie Brown got rocks whenever he goes trick-or-treating, resulting in depression, but he remained hoping that he will get a chance to receive candy on the next year's Halloween. When the special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first aired in 1966, the viewers sympathized so much with Charlie Brown that they sent Halloween candy to the studio in order to show their sympathy towards him. Charlie Brown's best friend, Linus frequently got him to wait in a local pumpkin patch in order to see Linus's mythological being, "The Great Pumpkin". Charlie Brown was always shown trying to convince Linus that The Great Pumpkin didn't exist, but Linus was always shown to hope that The Great Pumpkin will arise from a "sincere" pumpkin patch and bless him with toys, making Charlie Brown's efforts in vain.
On Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown was frequently shown waiting at his mail box to get a Valentine from a girl, but, in almost every case, Charlie Brown doesn't receive any, though on the special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, he received a Valentine from Violet out of pity, and he accepts it, even though Schroeder (Charlie Brown's best friend after Linus) scolded Violet for trying to appease her and her female companions' guilty conscience. The special's viewers, similar to the viewers of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, sent Valentine's Day cards to the studio out of sympathy.
On the first Peanuts television special, Charlie Brown sought to know the true meaning of Christmas, as even though the jolly season was approaching, he was still depressed. It involved him directing a Christmas play with his uncooperative companions, and eventually Linus told him the meaning that he had always wanted to know.
Birthday and Age
Charlie Brown stated in an early strip (November 3, 1950) that he was "only four years old", but he aged over the next two decades, being six years old as of November 17, 1957 and "eight-and-a-half years old" by July 11, 1979. Later references continue to peg Charlie Brown as being approximately eight years old. Another early strip, on October 30, 1950, has Patty and Shermy wishing Charlie Brown a happy birthday on that day, although they are not sure they have the date right.
However, Charlie Brown, like the other Peanuts children, was not strictly defined by his literal age, as creator Charles M. Schulz distinguished the Peanuts characters by "fusing adult ideas with a world of small children." "Were they children or adults? Or some kind of hybrid?" wrote David Michaelis of Time magazine. Michaelis continues:
|“||Through his characters, "[Schulz] brought... humor to taboo themes such as faith, intolerance, depression, loneliness, cruelty and despair. His characters were contemplative. They spoke with simplicity and force. They made smart observations about literature, art, classical music, theology, medicine, psychiatry, sports and the law."||”|
In other words, Charlie Brown and the other human Peanuts characters transcended age and were more broadly human.
Charlie Brown's traits and the events he underwent are inspired by those of Schulz, who admitted in interviews that he'd often felt shy and withdrawn in his life. In an interview with Charlie Rose in May 1997, Schulz observed: "I suppose there’s a melancholy feeling in a lot of cartoonists, because cartooning, like all other humor, comes from bad things happening. Furthermore, both Charlie Brown's and Schulz's fathers were barbers and their mothers housewives. Charlie Brown's friends, such as Linus and Shermy, were named after good friends of Schulz, and Peppermint Patty was inspired by Patricia Swanson, one of Schulz's cousins on his mother's side. Schulz devised the character's name when he saw peppermint candies in his house. Even Charlie Brown's unrequited love for the Little red-haired girl was inspired by Schulz's own love for Donna Mae Johnson, an Art Instruction Inc. accountant; When Schulz finally proposed to her in June 1950, shortly after he'd made his first contract with his syndicate, she turned him down and married another man.
He first appeared in 1947, three years before Peanuts started, in a comic strip by Charles M. Schulz called Li'l Folks. He later appears in the first Peanuts comic strip, on October 2, 1950. The strip features Charlie Brown walking by, as the characters Shermy and Patty look at him. Shermy kept on praising him, but then suddenly insults him on the last panel. During the strip's early years, Charlie Brown was much more playful than he is known, as he often played pranks and jokes on the other characters. On December 21 of the same year, his signature zig-zag T-shirt appeared; previously, he only wore a plain one. On the March 6, 1951 strip, Charlie Brown first appears to play baseball, as he was warming up before telling Shermy that they can start the game; however, he was the catcher, not yet the pitcher.
Charlie Brown's relationships with other Peanuts characters initially differed significantly from their later states, and their concepts were grown up through this decade until they reached their more established forms. An example is his relationship with Violet Gray, to whom he was introduced to on the February 7, 1951 strip. The two constantly remained on fairly good terms, a bit different from their now-known relationship. Charlie Brown often fed on Violet's mud pies. On the August 16, 1951 strip, she called Charlie Brown a "blockhead", and that is the first time Charlie Brown was referred by that insult. November 14 of that year, Charlie Brown is first unable to kick a football, and Violet is responsible because fear of her hand being kicked by Charlie Brown resulted in her letting go of it and Charlie Brown being unable to kick it.
Charlie Brown is introduced to Schroeder on May 30, 1951. As Schroeder is still a baby, Charlie Brown cannot converse with him. On June 1 of the same year, Charlie Brown stated that he felt like a father to Schroeder; in fact, for quite some time, he sometimes acted like a father to him, trying to teach him words and reading stories to him, and on September 24 of that year, he taught Schroeder how to play the piano, thus allowing Schroeder to become the piano prodigy he is known by Peanuts readers. Then on that year's October 10, he told Schroeder the story of Beethoven, and set the piano player's obsession with the composer. Charlie Brown placed the Beethoven bust on Schroeder's piano on November 26, 1951. Schroeder aged rapidly over time, catching up to Charlie Brown in age, and Charlie Brown became less like a father figure and more like a close friend to Schroeder. Charlie Brown had Schroeder become his catcher for the first time on the April 12, 1952 strip. Around this point, their final relationship has pretty much been established.
On the sixth day of January 1952, Charlie Brown made his appearance on the first Sunday Peanuts strip.
Charlie Brown is first seen interacting with the character Lucy van Pelt on March 3, 1952. He was on better terms with her than later in the strip, as they often they made fun of each other out of mere playfulness. The November 16, 1952 strip is the first strip in which Charlie Brown was prevented by Lucy from kicking a football; on this strip she pulls it away because she fears that Charlie Brown will get her new football dirty, and then on the same strip, she holds it too tightly, so Charlie Brown is unable to kick it for a second time.
Charlie Brown first started flying a kite on the April 25, 1952 strip.
Charlie Brown is first seen with Linus on the September 19, 1952 strip. Charlie Brown was unable to talk to him because he was introduced as an infant. Similar to Schroeder, Linus caught up to Charlie Brown in age and settled as being slightly younger than him., and on the January 18, 1956, Linus befriended Charlie Brown, and eventually he would become Charlie Brown's best friend and their current relationship was established.
On September 1, 1958 Charlie Brown's father was formally revealed to be a barber (after earlier instances in the strip that linked Charlie Brown to barbers by implication.)
In early 1959, Charlie Brown (and other Peanuts characters) made his first animated appearances after they were sponsored by Ford Motor Company for commercials for its automobiles, as well as for intros of The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. The ads were animated by Bill Meléndez for Playhouse Pictures, a cartoon studio that had Ford as a client.
In the 1960s, the Peanuts comic strip entered its Golden Age, and Charlie Brown reached heights higher than ever before, becoming a sensation worldwide.
In 1960, the now-popular line of Charlie Brown greeting cards was introduced by Hallmark Cards.
While the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show ended in 1961, the deal between Charles Schulz and the Ford Motor Company lasted another three years. Schulz and animator Bill Meléndez became friends, and when producer Lee Mendelson decided to make a two-minute animated sequence for a TV documentary called A Boy Named Charlie Brown in 1963, he brought on Meléndez for the project.
Before the documentary was completed, Coca-Cola asked Mendelson if he had a Christmas television special. He said "yes." The next day he called Schulz and said they were making Christmas special featuring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts characters, in which he collaborated with both Schulz and Melendez. Titled A Charlie Brown Christmas, it was first aired on the CBS network on December 9, 1965. The special's primary goal is showing "the true meaning of Christmas". Before its broadcast, the people involved in the special's creation were worried that it might be a project blow, with its unorthodox soundtrack and explicit religious message. It was, however, a huge success, with the number of homes watching the special an estimated 15,490,000, placing it at number two in the ratings, behind Bonanza on NBC.; in other words, almost half of the people who were watching television were watching the special. It also received unanimous critical acclaim, and had a large legacy: according to author Charles Solomon, it established the half-hour animated special as a television tradition, inspiring the creation of numerous others, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and Frosty the Snowman, and served as an inspiration for dozens of young aspiring artists and animators, many of whom went on to work within both the comics and animation industries, among them Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E), Jef Mallett (Frazz), and Patrick McDonnell (Mutts). The special's score made an equally pervasive impact on viewers who would later perform jazz, among them David Benoit and George Winston. The special was honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award.
The success of A Charlie Brown Christmas is followed by the creation of a second television special starring Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown's All-Stars, which was originally aired on June 8, 1966. Later that year, Charlie Brown made his appearance in a third Peanuts special: the Halloween-themed It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. For the rest of the decade, three television specials starring Charlie Brown (You're in Love, Charlie Brown; He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown; It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown) will be created.
The stage adaptation of a concept album based on Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts characters, entitled You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, went into rehearsal in New York City on February 10, 1967. Prior to its opening, the musical had no actual libretto; it was several vignetteswith a musical number for each one.On March 7, 1967, the musical premiered off-Broadway at Theatre 80 in the East Village, featuring Gary Burghoff as Charlie Brown.
On November 4, 1969, Charlie brown starred on the first full-length animated feature based on Peanuts: A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The film was a box office success, gaining 6 million dollars in the box office out of its 1 million dollar budget, and was well received by critics.
Charlie Brown, and his dog Snoopy, reached new heights on May 18, 1969 they became the names of the command module and lunar module, respectively, for Apollo 10 While not included in the official mission logo, Charlie Brown and Snoopy became semi-official mascots for the mission. Charles Schulz drew an original picture of Charlie Brown in a spacesuit ;this drawing was hidden aboard the craft to be found by the astronauts once they were in orbit (its current location is on a display at the Kennedy Space Center).
For this decade, the character appeared on twelve Peanuts television specials that were produced as a result of the success of the previous ones; furthermore , Charlie Brown appeared on two full-length animations (namely Snoopy, Come Home and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, and released respectively on August 9, 1972 and August 24, 1977).
A Broadway production of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown opened at the John Golden Theatre on June 1, 1971 and closed on June 27, 1971 after 32 performances and 15 previews, featuring Dean Stolber as Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown went on to feature in fourteen more television specials, two of which are musicals (one of which is the animated version of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown).
Charlie Brown starred once again on a full-length animation, which was titled Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!), and was released on May 30, 1980.
Six television specials featuring Charlie Brown were produced during this decade.
Within the comic strip, a storyline got Charlie Brown the character Peggy Jean as a girlfriend; this relationship lasted for roughly nine years.
Final Comic Strip Appearance
Charlie Brown made his final comic strip appearance on the final original Peanuts strip, which was published on February 13, 2000.
The strip began with Charlie Brown answering the phone with someone on the end presumably asking for Snoopy. Charlie Brown responded with "No, I think he's writing." The bottom panel consisted of the final daily strip in its entirety, reprinted in color, and included various Peanuts characters surrounding it. The very last panel consisted simply of Snoopy sitting at his typewriter in thought with a note from Schulz that read as follows:
I have been fortunate to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for almost fifty years. It has been the fulfillment of my childhood ambition.
Unfortunately, I am no longer able to maintain the schedule demanded by a daily comic strip. My family does not wish "Peanuts" to be continued by anyone else, therefore I am announcing my retirement.
I have been grateful over the years for the loyalty of our editors and the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans of the comic strip.
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy... how can I ever forget them...
— Charles M. Schulz
Fittingly, Charlie Brown was the only character to appear in both the first strip in 1950 and the last in 2000.
Post-comic strip appearances
After the comic strip ended, Charlie Brown continued to appear in more television specials. On November 20, 2006, the special He's a Bully, Charlie Brown beat a Madonna concert special with its 10 million views, although Peanuts was no longer in its heyday. As of 2014, the latest of Charlie Brown's original television appearances is Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, which came out on October 1, 2011 (a notable fact about the special is the inclusion of an homage to the very first Peanuts strip, when Charlie Brown has a flashback sequence).
Upcoming film Appearance
A 3D computer-animated major motion picture starring Charlie Brown will be released on November 6, 2015 in order to introduce Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang to a new generation. It will be directed by Steve Martino, and written by Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz, and Cornelius Uliano.
The person who will voice Charlie Brown is unknown, with Martino saying (after having previously worked with the voices of Jim Carrey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett): “In terms of casting, we haven’t announced our cast,” . But, it will “follow the same thing that was done onthe first Christmas special, [with] the charm of kids’ voices. With Linus saying something philosophical and very adult coming out of a voice of someone so young.”
The film's plot is currently unknown, though Martino said: "Here’s where I lean thematically. I want to go through this journey. ... Charlie Brown is that guy who, in the face of repeated failure, picks himself back up and tries again. That's no small task. I have kids who aspire to be something big and great. ... a star football player or on Broadway. I think what Charlie Brown is — what I hope to show in this film — is the everyday qualities of perseverance...to pick yourself back up with a positive attitude — that's every bit as heroic ... as having a star on the Walk of Fame or being a star on Broadway. That’s the [story's] core. This is a feature film story that has a strong dramatic drive, and takes its core ideas from the strip." Charlie Brown's love interest, the Little-Red Haired girl will also appear, and will truly step out in the film. "She looks wonderful, but people will have to wait a year and a half to see her," said Craig.
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