November 26, 1922
Charles Monroe Schulz was born at home at 919 Chicago Avenue South, #2, Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Dena Bertina (nee Halverson) Schulz and Carl Fredrich Augustus Schulz.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC >
Charles Schulz was given the nickname “Sparky” after the racehorse character Spark Plug featured in the popular newspaper comic strip, Barney Google by Billy DeBeck.
“I have been told, an uncle came in and looked at me and said, ‘By golly, we’re going to call him Sparkplug.’ So, I’ve been called Sparky since the day after I was born – named after a comic strip character.”
Charles M. Schulz (1984)
As a young boy, Charles Schulz experienced many of the ups and downs of growing up that he would later incorporate into the lives of the Peanuts characters. One of these memories was of trying to hold the football steady for another child, while resisting the urge to pull the ball away as a prank. Twenty-five years later, this would become a very familiar and beloved theme in Peanuts. MORE >
“It all started, of course, with a childhood memory of being unable to resist the temptation to pull away the football at the kickoff. We all did it, we all fell for it. In fact, I was told by a professional football player that he actually saw it happen in a college game at the University of Minnesota. The Gophers were leading by a good margin, everyone was enjoying himself, and the man holding the football, like the kids in the neighborhood, could not resist the temptation to pull it away. I wish I had been there to see it.”
Charles M. Schulz (1975)
Black and white dogs figured prominently in Charles Schulz’s childhood. When Charles Schulz was a small boy, the family got a little Boston Bull Terrier named Snooky, but it was the memory of their next dog, Spike, that would spur the antics of Snoopy for years to come.
“The first dog I ever had was a Boston bull named Snooky. She got run over by a taxicab when she was about ten years old and I was about twelve…about a year later we got a dog named Spike, and he was the inspiration for Snoopy.”
Charles M. Schulz (1980)
The Schulz family moved from Minneapolis to a rented apartment at 1662 James Avenue in St. Paul, which was much closer to Carl’s business, The Family Barbershop. The barbershop, located at the corner of Selby Avenue and Snelling Avenue, was a place that Charles Schulz spent a great deal of time while growing up.
“Our life revolved around the shop. My dad was a very hard worker; he always worked six days a week.”
Charles M. Schulz (1995)
About a year after moving to the James Avenue apartment, the Schulz family rented a house around the corner at 473 Macalester Street. Charles Schulz attended kindergarten at the Mattocks School on James Avenue, located equidistant between the James Avenue apartment and the Macalester Street home.
“My earliest recollection of drawing and getting credit for it and being complimented on it is from kindergarten. I think it was my first day, and the teacher gave us huge sheets of white paper, large black crayons, and told us to draw anything we wanted. I drew a man shoveling snow, and she came around, paused, looked at my picture, and said, ‘Someday, Charles, you’re going to be an artist.’ Now she wasn’t quite right – she didn’t say ‘cartoonist’ – but there was an interesting aspect to this. I had drawn the snow shovel as a square, but I knew this was not right. I knew nothing about perspective, and didn’t know how to fix it, but I knew that something wasn’t right about this picture. I like to think there was some anticipation there of what was to come.”
Charles M. Schulz (1985)
In 1929, the Schulz family packed up their 1928 Ford and traveled across the country to live in small town Needles, California. Carl, Dena and Charles Schulz rented a house at 503 Palm Way, not far from the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. Carl took a job working alongside his brother-in-law, Monroe “Monte” Halverson, at his barbershop across from Santa Fe Park. Charles attended the D Street School just a few blocks down the street from their home. MORE >
When the Great Depression hit the country in the last months of 1929, it brought extreme poverty and difficulties for many families. To a young Charles Schulz though, life seemed to go on without any disruption to normal family activities.
“I was raised during the Depression struggle, which didn’t affect me personally, because I don’t think little kids are into what’s going on. If you have pancakes for dinner, you think that’s wonderful because you like pancakes. You don’t realize that you’re probably having them because your parents can’t afford anything more.”
Charles M. Schulz (1992)
After a little over a year in Needles, the Schulz family drove back across the country to Minnesota to resume life in the Twin Cities. Charles Schulz was enrolled in Richards Gordon Elementary School on Dayton Avenue in St. Paul and he attended this school through grade 8. The Schulz family lived across the street from the school at the Mayfair Apartments and Carl Schulz re-established The Family Barbershop at its location a few blocks away on the corner of Selby and Snelling Avenues.
“When I was growing up, the three main forms of entertainment were the Saturday afternoon serials at the movie houses, the late afternoon radio programs and the comic strips. My dad was always a great comic strip reader, and he and I made sure that all four newspapers published in Minneapolis – St. Paul were brought home. I grew up with only one real career desire in life, and that was to someday draw my own comic strip.”
Charles M. Schulz (1983)
Charles Schulz’s life-long passion for ice hockey began with informal games played during his boyhood in the Twin Cities. Schulz and his friends would play on the backyard outside when it iced over in the winter, and also inside the house, with a little creative play by his grandmother Sophie Halverson. MORE >
The Schulz family was given a black and white mixed breed dog named Spike. Less than two years later Spike would become the subject of Schulz’s first published illustration and over a decade later would become the inspiration for Snoopy.
“[Spike] was the brightest dog I ever met. He had a vocabulary of at least 50 words – words he understood, that is.”
Charles M. Schulz (1983)
During his freshman year, Charles Schulz attended Sanford Junior High School in St. Paul, about ten blocks from their home on Dayton Avenue. He continued to practice his drawing skills and hone his cartooning education by reading the Sunday papers each weekend with his father. MORE >
“I am really a comic strip fanatic and always have been. When I was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, we subscribed to both local newspapers and always made sure that we went to the drugstore on Saturday night to buy the Minneapolis Sunday papers so that we would be able to read every comic published in the area. At that time, I was a great fan of Buck Rogers, Popeye, and Skippy.”
Charles M. Schulz (1969)
On New Year’s Eve of 1936, Carl Schulz penned a letter to Robert Ripley’s Believe It or Not newspaper comics feature describing the family dog’s unique talents to eat all sorts of oddities without adverse results. He noted in a post-script, that, “All these things have been swallowed whole and digested.” Carl included in his letter a small picture of Spike drawn by his son, Charles. The illustration was published alongside a listing of Spike’s strange and unsavory snacks, signed “Sparky”. At age 15, this would mark the point of Charles Schulz’s first published drawing.
The Schulz family returned to the house at 473 Macalester Street in St. Paul, the same home where they had lived before moving briefly to California in 1929. Charles Schulz also entered high school this year, attending Central High School in St. Paul until he graduated in 1940. The distance between home and school would be the farthest he had to travel to date, but The Family Barbershop was located in the middle of the route so that he probably didn’t feel too far removed from the neighborhood that he knew best.
During his junior year in high school, Charles Schulz’s teacher, Minnette Paro, assigned the class the task of “drawing anything you can think of, in sets of three on one sheet of paper.” The “Drawing of Threes” that Schulz created that day is particularly interesting because it is clear that Charles Schulz was keenly aware of domestic and world events at the time. MORE >
Later in the school year, Schulz signed a classmate’s yearbook with the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword” and included an illustration of a pen and a figure in a fencing pose holding a sword.
It was during his senior year at Central High School when Charles Schulz’s mother, Dena, showed him an advertisement which asked, “Do you like to draw?” The ad was for Federal Schools, now known as Art Instruction Schools, Inc., a correspondence school that was a division of the Bureau of Engraving in Minneapolis. Schulz’s parents enrolled him in the correspondence program that spring. Schulz later cited choosing the Federal Schools over other resident art schools in the Twin Cities area as due to the fact that, “it was this correspondence course’s emphasis upon cartooning that won me.”
After spending his sophomore through senior years at St. Paul’s Central High School, Charles Schulz graduated on June 14, 1940.
“I received a special diploma in the second grade for being the outstanding boy student, and in the third and fifth grades I was moved ahead so suddenly that I was the smallest kid in the class. Somehow, I survived the early years of grade school, but when I entered junior high school, I failed everything in sight. High school proved not much better… it was not until I became a senior that I earned any respectable grades at all.”
Charles m. Schulz (1975)
The summer after graduation, Schulz caddied at the local Highland Park Golf Course, took odd jobs, and continued his coursework with the Federal Schools. He began submitting his cartoon art for publication to magazines and even applied to work for Walt Disney.
“…The first year or so out of high school, I had very mundane jobs as delivery boys, and I used to send cartoons into magazines and didn’t even come close, I just got nothing but rejection slips. It wasn’t until after World War II, when I came back, that I really was able earnestly to go after what I wanted to do. Those were the formative years, I would say.”
Charles M. Schulz (1992)
The Schulz family moved from their home at 473 Macalester Street in St. Paul to an apartment above Carl’s barber shop at 170 North Snelling Avenue, Apt. 2, in St. Paul.
At the age of 20, Schulz was drafted into the United States Army to serve in World War II alongside many other men of his generation. The United States had entered the war on December 7, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
“The army taught me all I needed to know about loneliness.”
Charles M. Schulz (1975)
Within days of leaving for induction into the army at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Schulz’s mother, Dena, died at the age of 50. Dena had been ill for several years at this point, and likely succumbed to cervical cancer.
After returning home for his mother’s funeral, Schulz began basic training at Camp Campbell, located on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.
He was assigned to Company B in the Eighth Armored Battalion of the Twentieth Armored Infantry Division. Schulz spent nearly two years at Camp Campbell training as a machine gunner. After the first 13 weeks, Private Schulz was promoted to private first class and then moved up to corporal in the fall of 1943. On February 11, 1944, Schulz earned his sergeant’s stripes and was designated the assistant leader of the First Platoon’s machine-gun squad. Schulz was promoted to staff sergeant and leader of a light machine gun squad in September 1944.
While at Camp Campbell, Schulz became friends with many of his fellow soldiers from Minnesota as well as Elmer Hagemeyer, a police officer from St. Louis, Missouri. Hagemeyer served as staff sergeant and leader of a mortar squad in the Twentieth Armored Infantry Division.
Schulz spent some of his free time sketching life at Camp Campbell in sketchbooks and envelopes sent from Elmer Hagemeyer to his wife Margaret in St. Louis. Schulz would often accompany Hagemeyer home on weekend visits and the two men remained friends after the war.
Following the training at Camp Campbell, the Twentieth Armored Infantry Division was transported to Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts for about two weeks before shipping out to the European Theater of Operations. On February 5, the unit embarked from Boston aboard the U.S. Army Transport Brazil on a nearly two week voyage across the Atlantic before landing in Le Havre, France. MORE >
While stationed at Camp Campbell and then in Europe during the war, Charles Schulz often wrote letters home to his family and friends. Mail sent from GIs passed through government censors before being sent to the addressee. To save space and transportation costs, some of the mail sent home from the European Theater of Operations was photographed and reduced in size for delivery to the United States. This mail, called V-Mail, or “Victory Mail,” no matter how infrequent or mundane, would certainly have been a welcome sight to the receiver.
“Boy, did that Angel Food cake arrive at a choice time. We had been living on “C” rations for so long, I thought I was about to lose my sense of taste completely. Then one morning when morale was running along quite low, here came that marvelous package of yours to save the day. My Dad told me about the tough time you had mailing it, but Annebelle, [sic] if you can realize how much I appreciated receiving that assortment of cookies & cake, you’ll get a slight amount of compensation anyway. Thanks a million. You certainly have been wonderful to me.”
Charles M. Schulz, 1945
With the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, Schulz’s unit was shipped back to the United States on July 27, arriving in New York harbor on August 6—the same day that Hiroshima, Japan, was bombed. Schulz returned home to Minnesota for a 30-day rest and recuperation furlough and then received orders to report to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. With the surrender of Japan occurring on August 14, the country celebrated V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day). Although “Operation Coronet”—the amphibious invasion of Japan in which Schulz and his unit were slated to participate—was now unnecessary, Schulz’s unit was sent across the country by train to Camp Cooke, located on the California coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles (Camp Cooke’s name was subsequently changed in 1953 to Vandenberg Air Force Base). After about two months at Camp Cooke, Schulz was given a 45-day leave and sent back home by Thanksgiving that year. He was officially discharged from the army on January 6, 1946 and the Twentieth Armored Division was inactivated a few months later on April 2, 1946 at Camp Hood, Texas. MORE >
Upon returning to St. Paul after the war, Schulz resumed living with his father above The Family Barber Shop. He was soon hired as an instructor at his alma mater, Art Instruction Schools, Inc., across the river in Minneapolis where he worked five years correcting students’ artwork for the cartooning division. MORE >
While working at Art Instruction Schools, Schulz worked on developing his cartooning style and toward meeting his life-long goal of becoming a syndicated cartoonist. Although he was initially working on lettering other cartoonist’s work, he eventually had a couple of his own original comics published in the comic book as well. Just Keep Laughing, Schulz’s first published panel comic appeared in the Topix comic book in February 1947. The second and final panel was published in April of the same year.
As Schulz continued to pursue syndication opportunities, submitting his work to a variety of publications including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, his next success resulted in the Minneapolis Tribune publishing two of his comic panels, titled Sparky’s Li’l Folks.
June, 1947-January, 1950
Schulz’s career as a cartoonist reached a milestone with the weekly publication of his panel comic, now called Li’l Folks, in the other major local newspaper in the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
May, 1948-July, 1950
Yet another benchmark in Schulz’s career was the May 29, 1948 publication of the first of 17 panel cartoons in The Saturday Evening Post magazine. The final panel Schulz had published in The Saturday Evening Post appeared in the July 8, 1950 issue.
“I used to get mail from my dad’s barber shop, when I lived in an apartment around the corner and upstairs. It said ‘Check Tuesday for spot drawing of boy on lounge’. So, I put it away. My dad and I went out for dinner that night, as we usually did, and I said ‘I got a note today from the Post. Gee, now I understand that. They’re going to send me a check on Tuesday. I thought it meant I should check the mail on Tuesday, they were going to send it back.’ And, sure enough, that Tuesday, I got a check for $40.00 and it was my first sale. My first major sale.”
(Charles Schulz, 1992)
It was during his time as an instructor at Art Instruction Schools that Schulz also met and began dating Donna Mae Johnson, who worked in the accounting department at the school. She would later accept another man’s marriage proposal instead of Schulz’s and be immortalized as the unrequited love of Charlie Brown, only ever known in the Peanuts comic strip as “The Little Red-Haired Girl.”
While still working as an educator at Art Instruction Schools, Charles Schulz worked diligently to get a comic strip syndication contract. After receiving rejections from several other syndicates, Schulz finally sold Li’l Folks to United Feature Syndicate in 1950.
“I used to bundle my efforts together and take the train down to Chicago and visit two or three syndicates there and get rejected and get on the train and come home. In the spring of 1950, I took all the best cartoons I’d done for the Pioneer Press and redrew them and submitted them to United Feature Syndicate. They liked them enough to ask me if I’d care to come to New York and talk about it, and I did. I took along six daily comic strips which had a new approach to humor in strips. If you were to see them now they wouldn’t look like much, but at the time it was new.”
Charles M. Schulz (1971)
Due to a conflict with an earlier comic strip that had a similar name, (Tack Knight’s Little Folks), before the strip was published the syndicate opted to rename the strip Peanuts, a title Schulz made clear even decades later that he never liked.
“Although I have always resented the title ‘Peanuts’ which I was forced to use – and I’m still convinced it’s the worst title for any comic strip – it probably doesn’t matter what it is called so long as each effort brings some kind of joy to someone, someplace. My work is extremely satisfying and to be able to draw Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and all the other little characters and to know that people love them and care about what happens to them makes my work extremely satisfying.”
Charles M. Schulz (1979)
October 2, 1950
On October 2, 1950, the first Peanuts comic strip debuted in a four-panel format in seven newspapers nationwide – The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Allentown Call-Chronicle, The Bethlehem Globe-Times, The Denver Post, and The Seattle Times. Schulz was paid $90 for his first month of strips, which consisted of a six day per week, Monday through Saturday, format until 1952.
“To me it was not a matter of how I became a cartoonist but a matter of when. I am quite sure if I had not sold Peanuts at the time I did, then I would have sold something eventually, even if I had not, I would continue to draw because I had to.”
Charles M. Schulz (1983)
To market the Peanuts comic strip, United Feature Syndicate created subscriber promotions which could be run in the newspapers to generate interest with a newspaper’s readers. If readers liked Peanuts, they were encouraged to write to their local newspaper to request that it be published there.
April 18, 1951
After meeting through mutual friends at Art Instruction Schools and dating for several months, Charles Schulz married Joyce Steele Halverson of Minneapolis. They honeymooned in Colorado Springs, Colorado and lived with Carl Schulz and his fiancé, Annabelle, on Edgerton Street in St. Paul. Before long, Charles Schulz adopted Joyce’s one year old daughter Meredith, her child from a previous marriage, born February 5, 1950. Carl married Annabelle Anderson shortly after Charles and Joyce’s wedding.
Subsequent to their honeymoon in Colorado in the spring, the young Schulz family bought a modest suburban home in Colorado Springs at 2321 North El Paso Street. While living in Colorado, Charles Schulz worked out of his home briefly before realizing that the distractions of a one year old were not conducive to working on weekly deadlines. Additionally, the early success of Peanuts made finding a space to work outside the house an affordable option. He soon found an office to rent at the Golden Arrow Building in downtown Colorado Springs.
“I tried working at home when we moved to Colorado Springs, right after I signed the contract, and I discovered that working at home for me was absolutely impossible. My mother-in-law visited us for awhile and she suggested it might be better if I would just rent a small room someplace downtown in Colorado Springs, which is what I did; and since then I have always worked away from home. Even when we moved out here to California – we had a large place, 28 acres – I still never worked in the house. I don’t know about others, but I just have decided that a man has to get up in the morning and go someplace. I think you have to go to a definite place where you do your work”
Charles M. Schulz (1987)
While walking through downtown Colorado Springs one day, Charles Schulz ran into Philip “Fritz” Van Pelt, a fellow soldier in the Twentieth Armored Infantry Division who was stationed at Camp Campbell at the same time as Schulz. While the two had never met at Camp Campbell, the men and their wives quickly became weekly bridge playing friends in Colorado Springs. Schulz eventually used the surname “Van Pelt” for his sibling characters Lucy and Linus in Peanuts. The name Lucy possibly arose from Fritz’s wife, Louanne, also referred to as “Lou”, although Schulz was adamant in explaining that while he often took names for his characters from people he knew, the personalities were in fact an extension of Schulz’s own persona and not a reflection on the character’s namesake. MORE >
January 6, 1952
Prior to 1952, Peanuts comic strips were featured in newspapers in the daily black and white strip format, published Monday through Saturday only. On January 6, 1952, the first Sunday of the year, full color Peanuts Sunday comic strips were introduced. After that, Peanuts ran in most newspapers seven days a week with black and white dailies and full color Sundays. Nowadays, many newspapers print Peanuts in full color seven days per week, and that is also how it can be viewed online at Go Comics.
“I don’t know where the Peanuts kids live. I think that, originally, I thought of them as living in these little veteran’s developments, where Joyce and I first lived when we got married out in Colorado Springs. Now I don’t think about it at all. My strip has become so abstract and such a fantasy that I think it would be a mistake to point out a place for them to live.”
Charles M. Schulz (1992)
February 1, 1952
Charles Monroe “Monte” Schulz was born in Colorado Springs, bringing the young and quickly growing Schulz family to a total of four members. The following month, a little less than a year after moving to Colorado, the Schulz family packed their belongings and moved back to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
One of the first signs that Peanuts was really taking off in popularity was the interest by publishers in licensing the strips to reprint in comic books, published by Dell, Gold Key, Sparkler, and others. After a couple years of reprinting these strips, Schulz was asked to create new original strips, longer stories, and original cover art. With the deadline of the daily and Sunday strips now looming each week, plus obligations to attend book signings, present chalk talks, and provide interviews to newspapers, magazines, and even some television shows, Schulz didn’t have much time to do more original comic strips. As a solution to this, he employed his former Art Instruction Schools’ colleagues Dale Hale, Jim Sasseville, and Tony Pocrnich. The comic books continued to be produced through 1964.
After they moved back to Minnesota from Colorado, the Schulz family lived in a simple ranch home at 5521 Oliver St. South in Minneapolis for about six months. With another child on the way, the Schulzes moved again to a larger home a few miles away, located at 6228 Wentworth Ave. South in the Richfield area of Minneapolis.
Perhaps with the aim to appeal to a wider audience than the comic books, which were generally marketed and purchased by children, Rinehart & Co., Inc. was the first to publish a collection of Peanuts comic strip reprints in a bound paperback book format. These books contained selected Peanuts strips, with the first book simply titled, Peanuts. During the early days of successful strip reprint publications, Schulz made himself available to promote his cartoon by attending book signings and offering ‘chalk-talks’ during which he would draw oversized Peanuts characters and offer the drawings to the attendees.
January 22, 1953
As Peanuts grew in popularity, the Schulz family also grew. A second son, Craig Frederick Schulz, was born in Minneapolis and brought the total children in the family now to one girl and two boys. Just as Charles Schulz needed an office away from home in Colorado Springs, he also needed one back in the Twin Cities. His former employers at the Art Instruction Schools offered him use of their penthouse office at the bureau of Engravers Building and Schulz happily accepted the offer. It not only allowed him the space to be able to focus on his art and meet his deadlines, he could easily also meet up with his former colleagues at Art Instruction for lunch, conversation, or a round of billiards.
By 1954, several new characters had been introduced into the Peanuts comic strip – Violet Gray and Schroeder in 1951, Lucy and Linus Van Pelt in 1952, and Pig Pen and Charlotte Braun in 1954. It would be five more years before the next new characters would be introduced into the strip.
“I think anybody who is writing finds he puts a little bit of himself in all of the characters, at least in this kind of a strip. It’s the only way that you can survive when you have to do something every day. You have to put yourself, all of your thoughts, all of your observations and everything you know into the strip.”
Charles M. Schulz (1984)
Kodak became the first product sponsor for Peanuts, publishing “The Brownie Book of Picture-Taking” to go along with their popular Brownie cameras. The little booklet utilized the Peanuts characters to demonstrate proper photography techniques in playful ways.
Marking a true career achievement in cartooning, Charles Schulz won the coveted Reuben award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” from the National Cartoonists Society. He was presented the statue by the award’s namesake, Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg, making an already pivotal moment in his success that much more meaningful to Schulz. Rube Goldberg is perhaps best known today for another namesake legacy, the “Rube Goldberg Machine”, contraptions that perform otherwise simple tasks in very complicated ways. Goldberg often depicted these complex and humorous mechanisms in his own cartooning. MORE >
April 13, 1955
With the success of five years of Peanuts strips behind him and a new five-year contract between Charles Schulz and United Feature Syndicate solidified, the Schulz family purchased an impressive home at 112 West Minnehaha Parkway in the desirable Tangletown neighborhood of Minneapolis.
August 5, 1956
Another daughter, Amy Louise Schulz, was welcomed into the Schulz family, balancing out two boys with two girls. To acknowledge this special day, Charles Schulz penned a “Happy Birthday, Amy” message into the Peanuts comic strip on August 5 on several occasions over the years.
“Peanuts are the grandest people in the world. All children are peanuts. They’re delightful, funny, irresistible, and wonderfully unpredictable. I really hate to see them grow out of the peanut stage.”
Charles M. Schulz (1977)
For a couple of years in the late 1950s, Charles Schulz was the only comic strip artist to have two different comic strips published in newspapers at the same time. It’s Only a Game was created as a sports-themed strip featuring single panel comics looking at the lighter side of golf, bowling, fishing, bridge, and other sports and games.
Although Schulz proudly worked on the Peanuts comic strip alone, from the ideas themselves to the lettering and drawings, Schulz hired Art Instruction Schools’ colleague Jim Sasseville to assist him on drawing this strip. A total of 63 It’s Only a Game panels were syndicated in about 30 newspapers before it was cancelled.
Marking a milestone in Peanuts licensing, the first three-dimensional products came in the form of the Hungerford Plastics Corporation’s well-liked set of Peanuts character dolls. Included in the series of dolls were Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Pig-Pen, and Schroeder accompanied by his little piano.
“Around 1960, I got a call from someone who wanted to make little Peanuts rubberized dolls that stood about six to eight inches high. The sculptor came out here to California from the East with his little bag of clay models and we sat here and he modeled them out. They came out very nicely.”
Charles M. Schulz (1996)
By the spring of 1958, the Schulz family unit was complete with the birth of Jill Marie on April 20. Jill joined her siblings, listed eldest to youngest: Meredith, Monte, Craig, and Amy. Charles and Joyce Schulz had already started planning a move to California, traveling out west to view homes in early 1958. They viewed several properties around the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, but weren’t sure exactly what town they’d end up in. Just as they were about to leave the “Golden State” to return home to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” the Schulzes were taken to Sonoma County to view a 28-acre property in Sebastopol that would soon become their home for nearly 15 years, Coffee Grounds. MORE >
An idea from a young granddaughter of advertising executive, Norman Strauss, prompted Ford Motor Company to approach Charles Schulz for permission to license the Peanuts characters. A multi-year advertising campaign promoting their new and efficient Falcon model was created, featuring the Peanuts Gang in print ads and also presenting the characters for the first time in animation on television. Working together for the first time in what would become a longstanding professional relationship, Schulz drew all of the original art for the print ads and Bill Melendez created the animation for the television commercials.
“J. Walter Thompson got the idea that they wanted to use the Peanuts characters to advertise Ford products and, immediately, they went to the Falcon. The Falcon was the car that was just starting then. So we did animated commercials, newspaper ads, billboards, everything, and I drew them all too. And I used to help them write the newspaper ads and the animated commercials and that’s how I met Bill Melendez.”
Charles M. Schulz (1992)
A decade into the publication of Peanuts in newspapers, Hallmark Peanuts-themed greeting cards and party decorations began to be included in many family celebrations. More than 50 years later, Hallmark has now produced a wealth of Peanuts greeting cards, party goods, books, postcards, and ornaments. Charles M. Schulz produced much of the artwork for the early products and often visited the Hallmark offices in Kansas City.
March 6, 1961
On March 6, 1961, Schulz introduced Frieda to the Peanuts comic strip. A little girl with “naturally curly hair,” Frieda was often shown holding her cat Faron, whom Schulz named after the country-western musician, Faron Young. Although Faron’s appearance was brief, Frieda became a regular character in the strip.
As the popularity of Peanuts grew, United Features Syndicate was approached by numerous companies hoping to capitalize on its success. Requests poured in from all over the country from educators, book publishers, and insurance companies, among others. An enterprising young entrepreneur came knocking at Schulz’s door in 1962 with an idea to use Peanuts on datebook calendars…MORE >
I know from my own experience that I want my children to be free to do something that’s crazy – as crazy as dedicating their lives to a comic strip.
Charles M. Schulz, “Redbook Announces a Dialogue Between … Jack Lemmon and Charles Schulz,” Redbook December 1967
Schulz received an honorary degree in 1963 from Anderson College, a theological seminary and institute of higher learning in Indiana.
Having already been named Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1955, the National Cartoonist Society once again bestowed Schulz with this high honor, making him the first recipient to receive the Reuben twice.
“Religion, psychiatry, education- indeed all the complexities of the modern world- seem more amusing than menacing when they are seen through the clear, uncompromising eyes of the comic-strip kids from Peanuts. The wry and wistful characters created by Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz have all but come to life for readers in the U.S. and abroad as they demonstrate daily and Sunday an engaging wisdom beyond their years, a simplistic yet somehow impressive understanding of the assorted problems that perplex their elders.”
“Good Grief,” Time, April 9, 1965, page 80
One of Snoopy’s most iconic and popular personas–the World War I Flying Ace–makes his debut. Wearing his flying cap, goggles, and a scarf, the Flying Ace rides in his Sopwith Camel (a.k.a. Snoopy’s doghouse) and takes to the skies to dogfight against the infamous Red Baron.
December 9, 1965
A Charlie Brown Christmas, the first Peanuts animated television special, premiered on the CBS network on December 9, 1965. The production team included producer Lee Mendelson, animator/director Bill Melendez, and writer Charles Schulz. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi composed and performed the score. The program won an Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, and a Peabody award for Outstanding Children’s and Youth’s Program. MORE>
A Charlie Brown Christmas is awarded the George Foster Peabody Award on April 21, 1966.
The certificate read, “Gentleness is a quality that is seldom understood by television’s writers or directors. A notable exception was telecast during the holiday season of 1965. It was a little gem of a show that faithfully and sensitively introduced to television the Peanuts collection of newsprint characters created by Charles Schulz. A Charlie Brown Christmas was a delight for the whole family.”
On May 22, 1966, Charles M. Schulz wins the Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program for A Charlie Brown Christmas. This would be Schulz’s first Emmy nomination and win.
May 29, 1966
Winning the Emmy was a bittersweet moment for Schulz, as one week later his father Carl passed away while visiting with his son in California.
That same year, Schulz’s art studio was destroyed by fire.
As art sometimes follows life, the trauma of the destruction later appeared in the Peanuts comic strip, as Schulz created a storyline about Snoopy’s doghouse burning down.
August 22, 1966
Patricia Reichardt, better known Peppermint Patty was introduced in the Peanuts comic strip. Her distinct personality, athleticism, and trademark sandals, made for a strong new character in the strip..
© Peanuts Worldwide LLC
“Patty has been a good addition for me, and I think could almost carry another strip by herself. A dish of candy sitting in our living room inspired her name. So in this case I created the character to fit the name, and Peppermint Patty came into being.”
Charles M. Schulz, “Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me,” Family Circle, October 1978, 158.
March 7, 1967
The cast of Peanuts made their stage appearance in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, which debuted off-Broadway at Theatre 80 St. Marks. The show ran for four years in New York, and productions featuring different casts followed in other cities. Later in 1967, the musical debuted at San Francisco’s Little Fox Theatre, where it ran for five years. Schulz was said to be a frequent attendee of these performances. He even got to know the cast well, inviting them to his home in Sebastopol and on ski trips to Lake Tahoe.
“[You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown has] become the most performed musical in the history of American theatre…every school and church and high school and grade school and kindergarten you can think of has put this thing on and it had taken a terrible beating but it survives. And, of course, the music is good and it’s not cute. That was the main thing. It was incredible that they could have made so many mistakes putting it together, but everything just fell right into place just right and that’s very gratifying. I used to go down to the theatre in San Francisco and it was a great pleasure to stand out in the lobby when the show was over and seeing the families coming out and everybody smiling because they had had a good time.”
“Charles Schulz Interview,” Nemo, January 1992, 21.
March 17, 1967
Charlie Brown and Snoopy were featured on the cover of Life magazine. The magazine article describes the Peanuts craze. The comic strip became widely popular among college students, air force pilots, and rock musicians, among other unique audiences.
May 24, 1967
A resolution from the California Legislative Assembly declaring May 24, 1967 as “Charles Schulz Day” in honor of his success with the comic strip, Peanuts.
In 1968, Charles M. Schulz received what he considered a great honor in 1968 when he was approached by NASA to use Snoopy in the Manned Flight Awareness Program. Snoopy’s likeness was used in many workplace motivation posters, on patches and decals, and on the Silver Snoopy pin. The following year, NASA astronauts named the Apollo 10 command module “Charlie Brown,” and the lunar module, “Snoopy”.
“A man named…Al Chop came to me and they had just had that tragic fire where the astronauts were killed and so they wanted to start a new safety program and he had an idea to build the program around a cartoon character and he asked me if Snoopy could be the character and I said, ‘Sure, I’m very flattered.’ So they made posters and all sorts of things. They made beautiful little metal things which were really nice pieces of jewelry and if a person on the assembly line has a good safety record, one of the astronauts would present him or her with the pin and of course, those pins were taken to the moon and the moon landing. So Snoopy, literally, is the first character to go to the moon.”
“Charles Schulz Interview,” Nemo, January 1992, 22.
July 31, 1968
In 1968, the world lost two of its most influential men: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, and Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in Los Angeles, California, on June 6. Civil rights and race relations were major topics throughout the nation. During this period Schulz exchanged correspondence with Harriet Glickman, a teacher and advocate, regarding the addition of a black character in the Peanuts comic strip. Realizing the weight and responsibility such a character would have, Schulz introduced Franklin on July 31, 1968.
November 28, 1968
The first Peanuts character balloon debuted in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 1968. The parade has included a Snoopy or Charlie Brown balloon each year since then. In 1969, the parade featured an astronaut Snoopy, pictured here, to celebrate the Apollo mission.
April 28, 1969
Designed by Charles Schulz and his wife Joyce, Redwood Empire Ice Arena opened in Santa Rosa. The arena is located directly across the street from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. MORE >
December 11, 1969
A Boy Named Charlie Brown opened at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The animated feature would be the first to be shown there in over twenty years.
“A Boy Named Charlie Brown, the first feature length Peanuts movie debuted at Radio City Music Hall… One December evening in 1969, in New Your City, Charlie Brown simultaneously played before [a] a sellout crowd for the stage show, [b] a sellout audience for the Feature at the Radio City Music Hall, and [c] a repeat network television special, (A Charlie Brown Christmas) that was also seen by fifty-five million other Americans across the country. No performer in the history of show business can make that statement.”
Lee Mendelson, Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz. (New York: Signet, 1970), 254.
The February 16th Peanuts strip featured Snoopy’s promotion to Head Beagle. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Sam Yorty, presented Charles M. Schulz with a congratulatory certificate saluting Snoopy’s new position.
June 22, 1970
Woodstock, Snoopy’s loyal feathered friend is named.
“I’ve been drawing birds in the strip for some time-at least 10 years. Like a lot of things in the medium, suddenly your drawing starts to work. At one point I began to draw the bird a little better. I needed a name for him, and with the Woodstock festival being so prominent in the news, I said, ‘Why not?’”
Charles M. Schulz. Charles M. Schulz: Conversations (Mississippi: University Press), 74.
As the popularity of the Peanuts comic strip continued to surge, the city of San Diego, California, proclaimed that June 17th 1971 would be “Peanuts Day.” Charles M. Schulz also received the key to the city from then Mayor Frank Curran.
After more than 20 years of marriage, Charles M. Schulz and Joyce Schulz divorce. They moved out from Coffee Grounds in Sebastopol to the Chalk Hill Road area of Healdsburg, just north of Santa Rosa. Schulz worked out of the ice arena offices in Santa Rosa as his new studio was being constructed down the street.
Charles M. Schulz’s newly built “One Snoopy Place” was completed and he began working on his comic strip there. He employed a small staff to assist him with licensing requests, interview scheduling, and other business affairs.
November 20, 1973
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving wins Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming in 1974.
January 1, 1974
Selecting the theme “Happiness Is…” Charles M. Schulz presides as the Grand Marshal of the 85th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
Charles M. Schulz visited the Rogue River in Oregon to conduct research for the upcoming Peanuts animated special, Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown.
Charles M. Schulz made his first and only appearance at Comic-Con in San Diego that year. He gave a chalk talk and was presented with the Inkpot award for achievement in the comic art medium. Comic-Con began in 1970 and has grown to become the largest comics gathering in the country.
The first annual Snoopy’s Senior Hockey Tournament took place at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Players from all over the world, including Charles M. Schulz, laced up their skates and took to the ice. Teams within various divisions played for gold, silver, and bronze medals. MORE>
Peanuts celebrated its 25th anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown airs on CBS on January 9, 1976. Schulz received congratulatory correspondence from numerous fans, including a special birthday note to Charlie Brown from then President Gerald Ford.
Charles M. Schulz injured his foot while playing tennis on New Year Eve. The injury required a cast and the use of crutches. He incorporated this injury into the Peanuts strips which featured Snoopy wearing a cast and learning to use crutches.
Jean Schulz used several terms of endearment for her husband. One of these, “sweet babboo”, became Sally’s preferred moniker for Linus in the Peanuts comic strip.
At some point in 1977, Schulz noticed he had trouble keeping his hand steady. The doctors diagnosed him with a benign essential tremor.
Charles M. Schulz visits France to do research for Bon Voyage Charlie Brown and to visit the Chateau of the Bad Neighbor, where his platoon was stationed during World War II. The trip would be filmed for a PBS documentary entitled, Charles M. Schulz…To Remember. More…
Since 1973 Charles and Jean Schulz hosted the Northern California Cartoonists and Humorists Association annual event at their home. Events included Snoopy’s World Famous Cartoonist’s Tennis Tournament and a contest that allowed cartoonist to draw the last panel of a future Peanuts strip. The winning artist would be presented with an award by Schulz. Noted artists in attendance included Cathy Guisewite and Jim Davis.