|First appearance||July 31, 1968|
|Last appearance||November 5, 1999 (The Peanuts Movie 2015)|
|Voiced by||Todd Barbee (1973)
Robin Reed (1973)
Duncan Watson (1975)
Vinnie Dow (1976)
Tom Muller (1977)
Ronald Hendrix (1977)
Rocky Reilly (1981)
Christopher Donohone (1981, 1982)
Kevin Brando (1983)
Carl Steven (1984-1986)
Hakeem Adbum-Samad (1988-1989)
Sean Mendelson (1992)
Jessica Nwafor (1996)
Corey Padnos (2000)
Stephen Scarpulo (2001)
Andreas Glantschnig (2001)
Jake Miner (2003)
Mar Mar (2015)
Levi Larson (2015)
Franklin Armstrong is a character in the long-running comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles M. Schulz. Introduced on July 31, 1968, Franklin was the first African-American character in the strip. He goes to school with Peppermint Patty and Marcie. In his first story arc, he met Charlie Brown when they were both at the beach. Franklin's father was a soldier fighting in Vietnam, to which Charlie Brown replied "My dad's a barber...he was in a war too, but I don't know which one." Franklin later paid Charlie Brown a visit and found some of Charlie Brown's other friends to be quite odd. His last appearance was in 1999, the year before Schulz's death.
A Los Angeles schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman wrote to Schulz in the spring of 1968, urging him to introduce a black character into Peanuts. This began a correspondence between Schulz and Glickman that led to Schulz's creation of Franklin. In an interview in 1997, Schulz discussed receiving a letter from a Southern editor "who said something about, 'I don't mind you having a black character, but please don't show them in school together.' Because I had shown Franklin sitting in front of Peppermint Patty. [...] I didn't even answer him." Franklin's skin color was mentioned in The Charlie Brown Dictionary, a picture dictionary using the Peanuts characters; he was referred to in the definition of "black" in showing a picture of him talking on the telephone, where the color of the telephone is black. The description also says that "black may also refer to Franklin's skin tone, which is also known as a Negro person."
In a Weekend Update commentary on a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live, Chris Rock, who hyperbolically stated that Franklin had not said a single word for 25 years, related his own childhood experience as the only black student in his grade school class.
In his initial appearances, Franklin seemed confused by all the strange things in Charlie Brown's neighborhood, especially Linus and his obsession with the Great Pumpkin. Schulz said of Franklin's first appearance, July 31, 1968, when he met Charlie Brown at the beach, "They'd never met before because they went to different schools," adding, "but they had fun playing ball so Charlie Brown invited Franklin to visit him." Franklin quoted the Old Testament, talked about his grandfather and had no anxieties or obsessions.
In the animated films and television specials, Franklin is shown to be an excellent dancer. He leads Marcie in a waltz in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, performs an elaborate break-dancing routine in It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, and performs another break-dancing number (while also rapping) in It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown.
According to the animated television special You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown, Franklin's family name is Armstrong, making his full name Franklin Armstrong. This is never stated in the comic strip (nor any other special); therefore, it is considered apocryphal.
- Crossing the Color Line (in Black and White), Hogan's Alley #18, 2011
- Inge, M. Thomas. Charles M. Schulz: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi, 2000, p. 256. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
- The World According to Charles M. Schulz, The Austin American-Statesman, January 2, 2001.
- "Weekend Update." Saturday Night Live: Season 18, episode 1. Aired on NBC on September 26, 1992.
- Boxer, Sarah (February 14, 2000). "Charles M. Schulz, 'Peanuts' Creator, Dies at 77". The New York Times.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Charles Schulz and his Peanuts cartoon strip