WATCH: Very First Peanuts Animation Was For A Michigan Company’s Commercial
I consider myself a fanatic of the Peanuts comic strips and animated specials that have come out over the years. Every year, my wife and I anxiously await the holiday specials featuring Charlie Brown and the gang including Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and of course their most famous A Charlie Brown Christmas. I always thought that the cartoon special released in 1965, where Linus Van Pelt famously explains the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown, was the original animation for the famous comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. It turns out it wasn't and the original animation for Peanuts has a connection to Michigan
In early 1959, animated commercials for Detroit-based Ford Motor Company featuring the Peanuts characters were produced by Bill Melendez. It was the world's first look at the famous strip's characters in motion. The commercial shows Charlie Brown handing out what looks like real cigars, but later turns out to be chocolate cigars. (Hey, it was the 1950s, I wouldn't have been shocked). Characters appearing in this debut animation include Charlie Brown, Schroeder, Linus, Lucy and Snoopy. It predates the television Christmas special by six years and strangely doesn't mention or show anything related to Ford at all.
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