How Great Is Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin?

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is arguably the most memorable of the 45 Peanuts TV specials based on Charles Schultz’ lovable characters, thanks in large part to Linus’ naive faith that The Great Pumpkin will rise from the pumpkin patch and deliver toys to believers, a la Santa Claus. The third Peanuts animated special—written by Schultz, directed by Bill Melendez, and produced by Melendez and Lee Mendelson—first aired October 27, 1966 on CBS and quickly earned its place in pop culture history.

 

  1. The Halloween special marked the first time Snoopy’s WW1 Flying Ace took to the skies outside of Schultz’ printed comic strip, and the first animated depiction of Lucy pulling away the football just as Charlie Brown was about to kick it.
  2. The blockbuster success of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’s initial broadcast encouraged CBS to continue greenlighting additional Peanuts specials.
  3. Actual children voiced the Peanuts characters, with one exception: director Melendez provided Snoopy’s high-pitched non-speaking voice.
  4. The original sponsors of the half-hour special were Dolly Madison and Coca-Cola.
  5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown nabbed two Emmy nominations in 1967: An Outstanding Children’s Program nomination for Mendelson and Melendez, and Melendez and Schultz were nominated under Special Classifications of Individual Achievements.
  6. In 2000, ABC outbid CBS to obtain broadcast rights to the Halloween classic, where it continues to air every Halloween season.
  7. Worldwide licensing deals mean thousands of items and collectibles—from greeting cards and figurines to sneakers, toys, and even bed sheets—are emblazoned with images from The Great Pumpkin.
  8. Several TV series have been inspired by the special over the years, including a segment in the “Vegetable Funfest” episode Robot Chicken (2005, Cartoon Network); The Simpsons’ “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse” segment of “Treehouse of Horror XIX” (2008, Fox): a Supernatural aired an episode titled, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” (2008, The CW); and the 2014 “Halloween V” episode of The Middle (ABC), when Sue organized a pumpkin patch screening of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The Great Pumpkin even got a shout out in the 2001 Halloween episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (UPN), “All the Way,” when the vampire Spike told Buffy he was heading back to his crypt to watch it. SNL, MadTV, The West Wing, Malcolm in the Middle have also paid homage in their own ways.
  9. Earlier this fall, in honor of the original comic strip’s debut, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released Peanuts 70th Anniversary Holiday Collection Limited Edition gift set of Peanuts’ top three holiday TV specials, featuring It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas along with additional specials and features.
  10. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs on ABC twice this year: Tuesday, October 22 at 8pm ET and Sunday, October 27 at 7pm ET.

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