Bill Melendez, the animator who brought the Peanuts characters to screens big and small, turning out some of the most beloved cartoons, passed away yesterday, at 91.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Melendez on a couple occasions. He was happy, friendly, and even in his later years, an intense worker. He brought life and motion to Peanuts in a way that wasn’t just Schulz but wasn’t unSchulz either. I’m reminded of it every time my three year old daughter watches A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which she does once or twice a week these days) and melts in uncontrollable laughter during Snoopy’s fight with the chair.
Bill also performed voices for both Snoopy and Woodstock, which (paired with the instrumental mute used to make the teachers’ voices) became part of a great unintelligible voice cast.
Bill’s work went far beyond Peanuts, of course. Early on, he worked for Disney and Warners, and would go on to work on a huge number of commercials, and worked on TV versions of Garfield, Cathy, and more.
A decade back, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek bio of Bill for a banquet honoring him. You can find that here.