By now, most of my readers will have seen that Lee Mendelson, producer of Peanuts specials for decades, passed away on Christmas Day – the day celebrated by his most famous work, A Charlie Brown Christmas, created by the key team of Mendelson, Melendez, Schulz, and Guaraldi (all now gone, alas.)
While I met Lee – had a nice meal and a nice chat with him – I don’t have any great stories about him. My pal Mark, who worked closely with Lee on the TV series Garfield and Friends, has started writing some tales (including mentioning some Peanuts animation that was produced but never aired.)
Relevant to the focus of this blog, Mendelson wrote four books on the history of Peanuts: the 20th anniversary book Charlie Brown and Charlie Schulz, the 30th anniversary book Happy Birthday Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic. These are light but entertaining books, written in an engaging style.
In the past month-and-a-half, there have been several hours of primetime network TV devoted to work he produced. Without his efforts on the small screen and the big one, we’d be without some great work, and Peanuts would not have the same place in the world that it has today.
I’m glad he was around.