For many, it’s a holiday tradition to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas every year. But how much do you actually know about it? There is a ton of interesting backstory involving the Peanuts cartoonist who created it, its producers, directors, and even some of its voices.
So, this year, while you’re gathered around the TV on Christmas morning, wow your family (or just your dog) with some A Charlie Brown Christmas trivia.
Interesting things you didn't know about A Charlie Brown Christmas:
It almost had a laugh track
You can thank Peanuts creator Charles Schulz for this one. In the 60s, most TV sitcoms and animated comedies featured canned laughter. According to The Cut, when executive producer Lee Mendelson told Schulz they were adding a laugh track to the Christmas film, the cartoonist left the room in protest.
THIS is how they created Snoopy’s sound
Animator Bill Melendez is the voice of Snoopy. According to Biography.com, Melendez recorded himself speaking and woofing and then sped it up until it no longer sounded like a human voice.
It killed aluminum tree sales
Thanks to Brown’s refusal to get a fake tree in the holiday special, aluminum tree sales across the country fell quickly in the years following its release. Sounds like Brown was an O.G. influencer.
Charlie’s head was really hard to animate
His circular head proved difficult for animators to make it look like it was turning around. Melendez didn’t want to stray too far from Schulz cartoons and ultimately, found a way to make it work.
Can you spot the goof?
There is actually a continuity error in A Charlie Brown Christmas. When you see Brown standing next to his tree, the branches change size.
Some of the actors didn't know how to read
Melendez and Schulz cast real children from Melendez's neighborhood in Southern California to voice the Charlie Brown gang. But some of them were so young, they didn’t know how to read yet! Reportedly, Melendez had to read the script line by line to them.
Charlie Brown’s tree was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen tale
The pitiful looking tree was inspired by the story The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. In the story, there is a small tree that wants to grow to be big and tall like the ones surrounding it. Producer Mendelson brought the story to Schulz who created a tree inspired by it.
It was the first animated network special to feature jazz
Vince Guaraldi famously composed all the music for the special, including the iconic Peanuts theme “Linus and Lucy.” Guaraldi also wrote the music for “Christmas Time Is Here,” while producer Mendelson wrote the lyrics and the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, Calif., sang it.
It had a very small budget
The team was given $76,000 to make A Charlie Brown Christmas. The next year, the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas animated movie was given $300,000.
Linus’ “True Meaning of Christmas” speech almost didn’t make it in
Blanket-carrying Linus quotes from the Gospel of Luke in his shining moment of the holiday special. However, it was almost taken out because producers worried that the biblical passage about the birth of Jesus would be seen as too religious by advertisers. However, Schulz convinced them to leave it in.