José Cuauhtémoc Melendez
November 15, 1916
|Died||September 2, 2008 (aged 91)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Other names||C. Melendez |
|Notable work||Peanuts animated specials|
|Children||2; including Steven C. Melendez|
José Cuauhtémoc "Bill" Melendez (November 15, 1916 – September 2, 2008) was an American character animator, voice actor, film director and producer. Melendez is known for working on the Peanuts animated specials. Before Peanuts, he previously worked as an animator for Walt Disney Productions, Warner Bros. Cartoons, and UPA. Melendez provided the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock in the latter as well.
In a career spanning over 60 years, he won six Primetime Emmy Awards and was nominated for thirteen more. In addition, he was nominated for an Oscar and five Grammy Awards. The two Peanuts specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas and What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?, which he directed, were each honored with a Peabody Award.
A native of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Melendez was educated in American public schools in Douglas, Arizona. He later attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (which would later become California Institute of the Arts).
Animation work (1935–1961)
On completion of his studies, Melendez was hired by Disney in 1935 where he worked on what are now considered classics: Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. Following the 1941 Disney strike, Melendez was hired by Leon Schlesinger Productions, later known as Warner Bros. Cartoons, where he served as animator on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. He worked in Bob Clampett's unit, first as an assistant animator for Rod Scribner, and then animator. After Clampett's departure, he moved to the Arthur Davis unit. When the number of animation units at Warner Bros. was reduced from four to three in 1948, Melendez moved to Robert McKimson's unit for a time.
After animating a few shorts under McKimson's belt, Melendez was fired by producer Edward Selzer. Afterwards, he moved over to United Productions of America (UPA), where he animated on cartoons such as Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950). Melendez also produced and directed thousands of television commercials, first at UPA, then Playhouse Pictures and John Sutherland Productions. In 1963, Melendez founded his own studio in the basement of his Hollywood home. Bill Melendez Productions is still active and is currently run by his son Steven C. Melendez. In addition to animation, Melendez was once a faculty member at the University of Southern California's Cinema Arts Department.
Melendez was referenced in the 1961 Looney Tunes short The Pied Piper of Guadalupe, directed by Friz Freleng. In it, Sylvester tries to learn how to play the flute by getting music lessons in order to lure the mice from a small Mexican town. He was referenced as J.C. Melendez, alluding to the name he was credited with in a few dozen Warner Bros. shorts during the mid '40s to early '50s (excluding his first few cartoons where he was credited as C. Melendez).
Peanuts franchise (1965–2006)
Melendez was the only person Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz trusted to turn his popular comic creations into television specials. He and his studio worked on every single television special and direct-to-video film for the Peanuts gang and Melendez directed the majority of them. He provided the vocal effects for Snoopy and Woodstock in every single production, voice acting the characters in the studio by uttering gibberish, and the voices were mechanically sped up at different speeds to represent the two different characters.
According to an article in The New York Times published shortly after his death, Melendez did not intend to do voice acting for the two characters. "Schulz would not countenance the idea of a beagle uttering English dialogue, Mr. Melendez recited gibberish into a tape recorder, sped it up and put the result on the soundtrack." He also directed, did the animation for, and provided voice acting in the first four Peanuts theatrical films, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977), and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (1980), as well as the video games Get Ready for School, Charlie Brown! (1995) and Snoopy's Campfire Stories (1996).
The last Peanuts-related production he worked on was He's a Bully, Charlie Brown (2006). Melendez and Lee Mendelson, who also worked on the Peanuts specials, films, and TV shows, formed their own production team and did other animated specials. They were responsible for the first two Garfield animated specials, Here Comes Garfield (1982) and Garfield on the Town (1983), as well as Frosty Returns (1992), the pseudo-sequel to Rankin/Bass' Frosty the Snowman (1969).
National Student Film Institute
On September 2, 2008, Bill Melendez died at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California at the age of 91. He had been in declining health after a fall a year earlier. No cause of his death was made public. Melendez was cremated and his ashes were given to his family.
Posthumous return to Peanuts
Archive recordings of his work as Snoopy and Woodstock were used for the film The Peanuts Movie. This makes him the only member of the film's cast to have been involved in a previous Peanuts project, save for Kristin Chenoweth, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown on Broadway. Melendez also has archival recordings on the film's game, Snoopy's Grand Adventure.
- Melendez Films – Animation division : United Kingdom, video and interactive entertainment
|1943||The Flying Jalopy||Yes||No||No||No|
|A Corny Concerto||Yes||No||No||No||Assistant animator|
|An Itch in Time||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Bashful Buzzard||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Great Piggy Bank Robbery||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Big Snooze||Yes||No||No||No|
|1947||The Goofy Gophers||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Foxy Duckling||Yes||No||No||No|
|Catch as Cats Can||Yes||No||No||No|
|1948||Two Gophers from Texas||Yes||No||No||No|
|What Makes Daffy Duck||Yes||No||No||No|
|A Hick a Slick and a Chick||Yes||No||No||No|
|Nothing But the Tooth||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bone Sweet Bone||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Rattled Rooster||Yes||No||No||No|
|Dough Ray Me-ow||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Pest That Came to Dinner||Yes||No||No||No|
|Odor of the Day||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Stupor Salesman||Yes||No||No||No|
|Riff Raffy Daffy||Yes||No||No||No|
|1949||Holiday for Drumsticks||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bye, Bye Bluebeard||Yes||No||No||No|
|A Ham in a Role||Yes||No||No||No|
|1950||Punchy de Leon||Yes||No||No||No|
|Boobs in the Woods||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Leghorn Blows at Midnight||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Miner's Daughter||Yes||No||No||No|
|An Egg Scramble||Yes||No||No||No|
|What's Up Doc?||Yes||No||No||No|
|It's Hummer Time||Yes||No||No||No|
|A Fractured Leghorn||Yes||No||No||No|
|Pop 'im Pop!||Yes||No||No||No|
|Albert in Blunderland||Yes||No||No||No|
|1951||Hare We Go||Yes||No||No||No|
|A Fox in a Fix||Yes||No||No||No|
|Georgie and the Dragon||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Wonder Gloves||Yes||No||No||No|
|Willie the Kid||Yes||No||No||No|
|1953||Little Boy with a Big Horn||Yes||No||No||No|
|Gerald McBoing-Boing's Symphony||Yes||No||No||No|
|It's Everybody's Business||Yes||No||No||No|
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Yes||No||No||No|
|Gerald McBoing-Boing's Symphony||Yes||No||No||No|
|1969||A Boy Named Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1970||The Rainbow Bear||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|1972||Snoopy Come Home||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1975||Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done||No||No||Yes||No|
|Escape to Witch Mountain||Yes||No||No||No|
|1977||Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1980||Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1985||Molly and the Skywalkerz: Happily Ever After||No||No||Yes||No||Direct-to-video film|
|1989||Molly and the Skywalkerz: Two Daddies?||No||No||Yes||No||Direct-to-video film|
|2015||The Peanuts Movie||No||No||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock||archival recordings|
|1956||The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show||Yes||No||No||No||1 episode: The Election/The Fifty-First Dragon/Twirlinger Twins in the Ballet Lesson|
|1960||The Bugs Bunny Show||Yes||No||No||No||classic cartoons|
|1963||A Boy Named Charlie Brown||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1965||A Charlie Brown Christmas||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1966||Charlie Brown's All Stars!||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1967||You're in Love, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1968||He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour||Yes||No||No||No||classic cartoons|
|It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1971||Play It Again, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|Babar Comes to America||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|1972||You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1973||There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1974||It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|1975||Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1976||It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|The Sylvester & Tweety Show||Yes||No||No||No||classic cartoons|
|1977||It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1978||What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|1979||You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||No||No||Yes||No||Also credited for story adaptation|
|1980||She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy|
|Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy|
|1981||It's Magic, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|No Man's Valley||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|1982||A Charlie Brown Celebration||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|Here Comes Garfield||No||Yes||No||No|
|1983||Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|It's an Adventure, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|Garfield on the Town||No||Yes||No||No|
|1983–1985||The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1984||It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1985||Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock, Spike|
|The Romance of Betty Boop||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|It's Your 20th Television Anniversary, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy (non-speaking), Woodstock|
|1986||Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1988||Snoopy: The Musical||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy (non-speaking), Woodstock|
|It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||No||Yes||Spike|
|Cathy's Last Resort||No||Yes||No||No|
|1988–1989||This Is America, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock||Also credited as writer for 4 episodes|
|1990||You Don't Look 40, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Himself|
|Why, Charlie Brown, Why?||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends||Yes||No||No||No||classic cartoons|
|1991||Snoopy's Reunion||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Snoopy's Siblings|
|1992||It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1994||You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1995||That's Warner Bros.!||Yes||No||No||No||classic cartoons|
|1997||It Was My Best Birthday Ever, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|2000||Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|2002||A Charlie Brown Valentine||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales||No||Yes||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|2003||Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy|
|I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock, Spike|
|2006||He's a Bully, Charlie Brown||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|2008||Peanuts Motion Comics||No||No||No||Yes||Snoopy||archival recordings|
|1995||Get Ready for School, Charlie Brown!||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|1996||Snoopy's Campfire Stories||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock|
|2015||The Peanuts Movie: Snoopy's Grand Adventure||No||No||No||Yes||Snoopy, Woodstock||archival recordings|
- Fox, Margalit (September 4, 2008). "Bill Melendez, 'Peanuts' Animator, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
- "Peanuts' animator Melendez dies". BBC. September 4, 2008. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
- "Bill Melendez, Comics Creator, Businessman and Peanuts Animator". thecartoonists.ca.
- Solomon, Charles (September 4, 2008). "Animator of 'Peanuts' TV specials and voice of Snoopy". The Los Angeles Times.
- "Bill Melendez Prod. Inc". billmelendez.tv.
- "Bill Melendez at Moby Games". Retrieved October 29, 2017.
- National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. June 10, 1994. pp. 10–11.
- Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. June 7, 1991. p. 3.
- "'Peanuts' animator Bill Melendez dies at 91". TODAY.com. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- Russ Fischer (March 17, 2014). "New 'Peanuts' Movie First Look: Charlie Brown and Snoopy Head Back to the Big Screen". Slashfilm.
- "Bill Melendez". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- Bill Melendez at IMDb
- Bill Melendez Productions Inc.
- Bio of Bill Melendez on Chuck Jones site
- Interview of Melendez (August '06)
- Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang flowed with good grief from his pen
- The Washington Post: Bill Melendez, 91; Award-Winning 'Peanuts' Animator
- Los Angeles Canyon News: Peanuts" Animator Bill Melendez Dies At Age 91
- Variety Magazine: Animator Bill Melendez dies at 91
- Bill Melendez at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- The Independent: Bill Melendez: Animator who worked on Disney classics and adaptations of the 'Peanuts' cartoons