14 Fun Facts About the Iconic "Peanuts" Cartoon and Gang
When the first Peanuts comic strip debuted on October 2, 1950, readers, editors, and even creator Charles M. Schulz himself had no idea they were a witness to history being made. It took a while for the charming world inhabited by Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts family to became a comics page staple, but soon enough, it was. By the time Schulz retired, he had produced 17,897 Peanuts strips: 15,391 daily strips, and 2,506 Sunday strips, running in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries.
While the beloved comic strip was read by millions, there are some things even devoted fans may not know about Peanuts. Here are a few of them:
1. Schulz's lifelong ambition was to be a cartoonist
Charles Schulz dreamed of becoming a cartoonist from a young age. He had a less-than-distinguished academic record, but outside the classroom he drew constantly and read newspaper comic strips with his dad. When Schulz was 15, he published his first drawing, a picture of his dog, who later served as the inspiration for Snoopy, according to History.com.
2. Schulz wasn't a fan of the name Peanuts
When Schulz first started working as a comic artist in 1947, he introduced many of the characters we now know and love in a strip called "Li'l Folks". However, when he sold the comic in 1950 to the United Feature Syndicate they changed the name to Peanuts, which Schulz reportedly never liked.
In a 1987 interview, Shulz said the comic's title was chosen by an editor and that he didn't think it fit Charlie Brown's world. "It's totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing," he said. "And has no dignity. I think my humor has dignity." He would have preferred to call the strip, "Good Old Charlie Brown."
3. Snoopy wasn't always Snoopy
When Schulz first created Charlie Brown's dog, he wanted to name the pup Sniffy, but there was a dog named Sniffy in another comic so he had to think of something else. According to ABC.com. Schulz remembered his mother once saying that if the family were to get another dog, it should be named Snoopy and a star was born.
4. Woodstock was named after the music festival
Snoopy's best friend is the little yellow bird known as Woodstock. While the bird was first introduced in 1967, he wasn't given a name until 1969 when Schulz gave him a moniker inspired by the famed music festival, Town & Country reports.
5. TV execs thought "A Charlie Brown Christmas" would flop
Network executives expected the Christmas special, which was originally commissioned and sponsored by Coca-Cola, to be shown once on TV and then disappear forever, according to History.com. Their prediction was extremely wrong. When the program premiered on December 9, 1965, it drew a large audience and went on to win an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award, and became one of the longest-running and most-loved holiday specials of all time.
6. Snoopy had a lot of siblings
While devoted Peanuts fans may recall Snoopy's trips to the desert to visit his brother Spike, who was named after Charles Schulz's childhood pup, he had other siblings too. Mental Floss reports, that the Snoopy family included pups named Marbles, Olaf, Andy, and Belle.
7. The Peanuts Movie was a family affair
While Schulz died in 2000, stipulating that no one else take over his beloved comic strip, his family continued his legacy with The Peanuts Movie. Released in 2015, the computer animated film was written with Charles Schulz's son and grandson, Craig and Bryan Schulz who brought the Peanuts gang back to the big screen for the first time in 35 years, People reports.
8. Linus didn't talk for years
While Linus is the resident philosopher of the Peanuts gang—and the Great Pumpkin's greatest proselytizer—he didn't talk much for the first two years he was in the strip. In fact, Mental Floss reports that from the time he first appeared clutching his security blanket in September 1952, he didn't say a single line until 1954.
9. Charles Schulz worked with NASA
According to History.com, in 1967 disaster struck at NASA when a fire ravaged Apollo 1. Fire officials contacted Charles Schulz and asked if they could conscript Snoopy into service as their safety mascot. Schulz agreed and helped them design a pin for the Silver Snoopy award, which was presented to aerospace workers for outstanding contributions toward safer spaceflight operations. In tribute to their safety mascot, NASA dubbed the lunar module "Snoopy" and the command module "Charlie Brown" during the Apollo 10 mission.
10. Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Peanuts
The former president once wrote a fan letter to Schulz saying he identified with Charlie Brown as a character, PBS reports. In 1967, back when Reagan was governor of California, the state legislature declared May 24 Charles Schulz Day in California. Later, when Schulz was in the hospital recovering from heart bypass surgery, Reagan personally called him to wish him well.
11. Lucy was not always the same age as Charlie Brown
The first time that Lucy appeared in the comic was March 1952. However, she wasn't a classmate of Charlie Brown's, because Lucy was a toddler. Only later did Schulz realize her potential and decide to make her the same age as Charlie Brown and join the Peanuts gang.
12. The Peanuts teacher was named Miss Othmar
One of the oddest yet most memorable bits from the Peanuts gang's forays into television was the way the teacher would talk. She was always off-screen and spoke in a strange "wah wah". Turns out that the teacher had a name—Miss Othmar. When she made her first off-camera appearance in You're in Love, Charlie Brown, the producers devised a way for her to "talk" without actually talking, Mashable reports, so they turned to music director, Vince Guaraldi. He suggested using a trombone player to make the wah-wah sound and Miss Othmar's voice was created.
WATCH: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Is Airing This Month
13. The Little Red-Headed Girl was named Heather
The Little Red-Headed Girl, the object of Charlie Brown's long-running affection, was never given a name or a face in the comic strip. However, People reports that in the animated special It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, it's finally revealed that her name is Heather and she finally merits an actual appearance in the series.
14. There were 45 TV specials
While Charlie Brown's Christmas is a beloved family tradition, it was not the only Charlie Brown special. Mental Floss reports, that since its debut in 1965, there were 44 others TV specials. While the list includes the Halloween classic like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown it features many others that have fallen into obscurity like It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown and You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown