“A Charlie Brown Christmas” has become an enduring tradition for millions of television viewers, but some may not realize how innovative it was for its time.
When production began in 1965, “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez took the then-unusual step of hiring children to voice the characters.
Schulz also insisted the special have no laugh track, which he deemed unnecessary.
“Let the people at home enjoy the show at their own speed, in their own way,” Schulz said.
The special also is distinguished by composer Vince Guaraldi’s memorable jazz score, including the lively piano tune “Linus and Lucy.”
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” was a hit when it debuted Dec. 9, 1965, drawing viewers in more than 15 million homes.
The special also received widespread critical acclaim, as well as Peabody and Emmy awards.
The Postal Service is honoring “A Charlie Brown Christmas’s” 50th anniversary with holiday stamps that depict 10 scenes from the special.
ABC will mark the anniversary with “It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown,” a one-hour TV tribute slated to air Monday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. EST. The 1965 special will follow at 9 p.m. EST.