A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Bringing the Peanuts characters to television was not an easy task. The strip's creators, with funding from sponsor Coca-Cola, presented the CBS network with an idea for a Christmas television special starring Schulz's characters.
At first, the CBS big-whigs didn't like the special. They felt it needed a laugh track or else the audience wouldn't know where the jokes ended and began. They also felt the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi wasn't right for a children's program. They finally felt that Linus' speech from the gospel of Luke wouldn't sit well with audiences as they wouldn't want to sit through a reading of the passage. Charles is said to have responded "If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?".
The special first aired on December 9, 1965. It was soley sponsored by Coca Cola and, to the surprise of Network executives, was a smashing success. 50% of TV viewers tuned in to watch the special. It went on to win the prestigous Peabody Award and an Emmy.
The track "Linus and Lucy" has become synonymous with the Peanuts characters and the soundtrack album by Vince Guaraldi continues to be a success.
- The main titles have Linus crashing into a Coca-Cola sign after Snoopy has spun both him and Charlie Brown around with Linus' blanket. In the versions currently available, the viewer never sees where Linus' trajectory lands him. Instead, they see Charlie Brown landing towards a pine tree which causes more snow to fall on top of him.
- In the "fence" scene, where several of the Peanuts gang are attempting to knock cans off a fence with snowballs, Linus is seen knocking down a can with his blanket. In the original airing, this was a Coke can, but it was later replaced with a nondescript can.
- The final end credit originally had a voice-over saying, "Brought to you from the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola." This is why the "Hark!" chorus sung at the end trails off oddly before the song would normally end, as an announcer originally did a voice over at this point in the credits to repeat and reemphasize the local bottler's well wishes to the TV audience (watch clip here: Clip 1 ).