Born 11/26/1922, legendary cartoonist and humorist, Charles Schulz was responsible for one of my earliest introductions to illustration, animation and jazz. The Peanuts characters were a staple with the Sunday comics, but A Charlie Brown Christmas was probably the earliest animation that held an impact on me as a child. Bill Melendez directed many of the early Charlie Brown/Peanuts animated specials, and the eloquent score of Vince Guaraldi set the tone for the plaintive, gentle humor and pathos of this legendary world.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patti, Franklin, Sherman, Pig Pen, Schroeder, The Red-Headed Girl...it was a diverse troupe of personalities. Schulz, a fellow Minnesotan, created his archetypical characters hinting at personalities and circumstances from his youth, but yet they were universally relatable. Looking back, I can't think of a more generous introduction to the dynamics of this world for a child, after all, who wouldn't love a place where dogs ran the world, girls were accomplished and spoke their mind, adults spoke in "tromboned nonsense" and jazz underscored every circumstance – it all made sense to me!
Decades later, imagine my delight to learn there were three key women who were part of the core animation team – or "Graphic Blandishment" – as credited, for this inaugural 1965 Peanuts TV Special: Ruth Kissane, a highly respected animator who worked at every major studio from Disney, Film Roman, Chuck Jones Ent. and Bill Melendez Productions, where she worked on layout, animation and later directed several other Peanuts projects; Beverly Robbins was a longtime animator on over a dozen "Charlie Brown" animated adventures; and Eleanor Warren worked on several specials, as well, between Bill Melendez and Chuck Jones Ent.,
Thanks, Sparky, for a strong world of women, both on, and behind, the screen!