Part of the great history of A Charlie Brown Christmas was that the network didn’t really know what it had, was expecting it to disappoint, only to find that half the sets in the country were tuned into the tale of the little tree that could.
Adding some complexity to this tale, however, was that there were already plans to do more Peanuts specials before the Christmas tale proved itself a big hit. In a United Press International story that appeared in many papers during the week before A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired, Schulz is quoted as saying “We’re doing a second show for June or July on baseball, and if the first two are a success we may come up with another for Halloween with Linus and the Great Pumpkin.” (Spoiler warning: they did.)
By the time of a New York Times News Service article that came out later in the month, they already had a date and time set for Charlie Brown’s All-Stars… only it wasn’t called that yet. It’s going to be Good Grief, Charlie Brown! And the Halloween special to follow? Simply A Great Pumpkin.
While researching this, I became fascinated by one publicity image that showed up in a couple papers.
It’s signed “Schulz”, but the Linus and Snoopy look much more like the animated Melendez versions, of course. But then I look on the screen, and the Charlie Brown looks quite genuinely Schulz. So did Schulz fake the animated style? I don’t think so. I think Schulz just drew the TV, and then the Melendez studio provided the viewers. To me , the giveaway is the line that is under Linus’s foot; it merges into one of the lines that’s the shadow of the TV, and Schulz wouldn’t have been sloppy on that. So this appears to be a semi-Schulz!