A Holiday Tradition: Unusual Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [Video]

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is showing no signs of aging as ABC claimed victory last night with their broadcast of the Charles M. Schulz cartoon which attracted 7.15 million viewers.

Many of us grew up with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and even if we have it on DVD, it’s still a rite of passage and part and parcel of the holiday tradition to watch it when it broadcasts on television each year. Pairing it up with The Mayflower Voyagers also makes sense over the holidays and is an extra fun way to usher in Thanksgiving.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has a lot of history behind it, which you may be interested to know as you get ready to watch it again on ABC today (they will have it available to stream throughout the entirety of the day).

This animation was Charles M. Schulz’s 10th holiday cartoon and first aired on November 20, 1973. The program earned Charles an Emmy award the following year for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming, while producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez were also nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Special.

For all of the vegetarians out there, it might interest you to know that the scene which shows Woodstock carving into the turkey with Snoopy was a source of angst for Lee Mendelson. There was a slight disagreement between Schulz and Mendelson, who felt that the idea of Woodstock tucking into a turkey, a fellow bird, was just plain wrong, and that it was tantamount to cannibalism.

“For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

When ABC decided to change the running time of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving from 25 minutes to 22, Mendelson was jubilant as he thought he had won the Woodstock battle, but ABC has since started airing the original 25-minute special again, and Lee knows a lost cause when he sees one and says he has finally “given up” the battle.

Another curious fact about this special is that there is not one single adult in the entirety of the cartoon. Peanuts specials don’t normally feature fully-formed adult cartoon drawings in them, of course, but you can generally hear the sound of “wah wah” in them when a grown-up is speaking. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the Peanuts gang talk about visiting grandparents, but you never actually hear them and the children get to make and eat their own holiday feast and seem to be having the time of their lives on their own, with no adults getting in the way. Lee Mendelson notes that this Peanuts special may be the only one to feature no adults in it.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special that does not include adults. Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.”

Speaking of the “wah wah” sound heard from the lips of teachers and all adults alike, it was composer Vince Guaraldi who came up with this brilliantly original idea.

“He came up with the trombone, and its wah-wah-wah has become one of the most famous elements in all our show, now even a part of daily speech in America.”

It seems that Charles M. Schulz was a fan of Walt Disney and that animated scene where we witness Snoopy frantically struggling with a lawn chair to the “Little Birdie” song was an homage of sorts to the early animated Walt Disney shorts.

“By this time, they realized that the show should include some adventures with Snoopy. He had become the most popular character in the strip. They would give him some ideas, set up the situation and the gags that they wanted and then they would turn Bill loose.”

So while you’re busy enjoying the holiday season this year, don’t forget to tune in to ABC today or pull out your copy of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to really get the season rolling.

[Featured Image by Andrew Kelly/Getty Images]

Share this article: A Holiday Tradition: Unusual Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [Video]
More from Inquisitr