A Charlie Brown Christmas Turns 45

By Charlotte Bumstead
An Emmy and Peabody award winner—it is a television show that defied the conventions of its time, refusing to use a laugh track. It is a representation of the magical capacity of cartoon. It is the holiday special viewers have depended on throughout the last half-century for conveying genuine Christmas spirit. This December, A Charlie Brown Christmas is 45 years old, marking the show’s debut as an official Zoomer.

The special—created by Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, producer-director Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez—first aired on Dec. 9, 1965, and became an immediate hit, receiving enthusiastic reviews from Time and TV Guide magazines. The highly regarded cast was made up of and played by children, a key feature, that took a lot of persuasive on the part of Schulz and company with the CBS network executives.

As years pass by, the cartoon continues to symbolize the true meaning of Christmas for audiences of all ages, confirming its prominent role as a treasured holiday tradition. Now, it is the second longest running TV holiday special, following Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Though the message the Peanuts gang conveys is ageless, its power and wisdom reflects what being a Zoomer is all about. We celebrate the 45th anniversary of this classic with great excitement and appreciation.