The Story of the Great Pumpkin

Children’s television specials starring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang began airing in 1965 with A Charlie Brown Christmas. The first special was so successful that CBS immediately ordered 6 more, including the third installation, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which may be the all-time favorite. The history of the Great Pumpkin Halloween special includes a number of life lessons and memorable moments seen for the first time.

History of the Great Pumpkin

In the first three specials, Charles Schulz managed to cover three events that are uniquely “American.” Our way of celebrating Christmas, America’s favorite pastime, baseball, and the children’s favorite, Halloween. Schulz felt that Halloween was a natural choice but he did go on to feature Thanksgiving with the next installment. The story of the Great Pumpkin is a unique spin on a child’s belief in magical beings that appear in the night, to leave presents for good girls and boys. Though the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy also fit into the category, the American version of Santa and Christmas are better analogies.

2016-09-21 03.36.01 pmThe Great Pumpkin television special opens with a trip to the pumpkin patch where Lucy van Pelt picks out the biggest pumpkin and forces little brother, Linus, to carry it home. Much to Linus’ horror, Lucy yanks out the guts and carves it up to make a jack-o-lantern.

Charlie Brown’s fall is not going well. While raking leaves, Linus jumps into a pile, destroying his hard work and Lucy entices him with her famous football gag. Knowing what is coming, Charlie Brown first resists, but like always, Lucy convinces him to try. She promises that “this time” she won’t pull the football away and even signs a “contract” with Charlie Brown saying so. Perhaps she intended to let him try but at the last moment, she jerks the ball away and Charlie Brown ends up flat on his back like always.

When the story of the Great Pumpkin really begins, we see it is Linus’ story. Linus believes that a Santa-like, Great Pumpkin will appear on Halloween night to leave presents for “good girls and boys.” It is a singular belief but Linus thinks others should share. He makes matter-of-fact references to singing “pumpkin carols” and even writes a “letter to the Great Pumpkin,” telling how good he has been. Linus’ friends, most notably older sister Lucy, ridicule Linus – except for Sally who accompanies him.

While Linus and Sally wait, Snoopy is imagining himself as a World War I “flying ace;” he climbs atop his doghouse, imagining it to be a Sopwith Camel fighter plane, and takes off to chase the Red Baron. Snoopy crashes his imaginary plane, makes his way through the children’s Halloween party, disgusting Lucy by kissing her in an apple-bobbing moment and goes on to lurk in the pumpkin patch. His sudden appearance convinces Linus and Sally that the shadowy figure is the Great Pumpkin.

When it turns out to be Snoopy, Sally yells at Linus for making her miss all of the Halloween fun and abandons him to join the others. While trick-or-treating, everyone got loads of candy, except Charlie Brown who got only rocks, leaving him confused and disappointed as ever but willing to try again.

2016-09-21 03.26.25 pmAs one would expect of a 7-year old, Linus falls asleep in the Pumpkin Patch. He shivers with cold, causing him nightmares, until sister Lucy in an unusual display of kindness, notices that he is not in his bed. She tracks him down at 4 am and escorts him to his bed. Linus is naturally disappointed, not only did he not see the Great Pumpkin, no presents were left for him. Unlike Santa, the Great Pumpkin is uniquely Linus’ and despite his disappointment, Linus vows to wait again next year. The story of the Great Pumpkin closes with Charlie Brown rolling his eyes.

The story of the Great Pumpkin has been so successful because it told the story of Santa in a non-confrontational way that few could object to. It was typically “Peanuts” with Charlie Brown’s troubles, Lucy’s pushiness, Snoopy’s aloof arrogance and had a number of “first appearances” for running storylines and gags.

Even though it has been 50 years since the first appearance of the story of the Great Pumpkin, it is still loved today. It airs every Halloween, usually two or three times, giving adults the chance for nostalgic memories while children become fond of the “ordinary boy,” Charlie Brown.

Source: Wikia

Jim-Shore-ArtistBio-picJim Shore is an award-winning artist whose popularity is the result of a lifetime of dedication, inspiration and plain old hard work. Jim grew up in the rural South as the son of artistic parents and grandparents who had an appreciation for American folk art. His first business, Designs Americana, grew large and fast enough that he had to partner with Enesco to manage the “business” of the business. This partnership allowed Jim to keep creating and today his designs are found in more than 25,000 stores worldwide, searched for 100,000 times per month, is number one on QVC, and producing over $1.2 billion in sales each month. One of his most recent design partnerships has produced the Peanuts line.

Jim says “the most rewarding thing I do is get out and meet the people I work for, people that share an enthusiasm for what I do. For an artist there is no higher compliment.”

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Why a Charlie Brown Halloween Still Resonates on TV

When the first Charlie Brown television special was shown to network executives, they thought it was doomed to failure. One voice spoke of a different outcome. One of the animators said that Charlie Brown was going to be a big hit and would be on television for many years. He turned out to be right about the success of the first show and 50 years later, the Charlie Brown Halloween special still resonates on TV.

Magical Things

2016-09-21 03.25.31 pmThe story of Linus and the Great Pumpkin is a story of a child’s need to believe in magical things. It is also the story of Santa and similar to the Easter Bunny. In the same way that children know Santa Claus will fill your stocking and the Easter Bunny hides eggs, Linus knew that the Great Pumpkin would come. Linus believed that all the “good” girls and boys would get gifts, delivered to the pumpkin patch on Halloween night, especially if he wrote a letter.

lucy-halloweenThe Great Pumpkin may have been based on Christmas and Easter magical appearances but the Great Pumpkin himself isn’t linked to a particular religion. Santa may not be universally accepted but no one is left out of the Great Pumpkin story. That may be one reason the Charlie Brown Halloween special still resonates. It is harder to object to the ridiculousness of a boy in a pumpkin patch who sings songs and writes letters to a giant vegetable.

Lessons To Learn

In a way, believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny — and the Great Pumpkin help children with the natural fear of darkness. These magical mysteries help show that good things can happen in the night. The failure of the Great Pumpkin to arrive also brings more lessons that children will need to learn.

Children can test out a greater understanding of the day they will stop believing. They can see that Linus, though disappointed, gathers himself up and continues to believe because he wants to. They also see that though Linus says that good boys and girls get presents, Charlie Brown gets rocks when trick or treating. Sometimes that’s just the way things work out and even though disappointed, you don’t stop trying. Those lessons are things that children probably don’t know they are learning but the parents don’t mind.

Memories

In the television world of today, things are much louder, faster and flashier than Charlie Brown’s world. Even in the 1960s, network executives had feared that Charlie Brown was too slow — and it is. But that slowness may be one reason it does still resonate. Children get the chance to slow down and become less frenetic. The children also see their parents become less frenetic, remembering the first time they saw Lucy with the football or Snoopy atop his doghouse, chasing the Red Baron as the Flying Ace.

Childhood magic, firsts, family rituals, perseverance, nostalgia, life lessons and quiet. Maybe some of those reasons are why a Charlie Brown Halloween special still resonates on TV.

Source: CNN Money

Jim-Shore-ArtistBio-picJim Shore is an award-winning artist whose popularity is the result of a lifetime of dedication, inspiration and plain old hard work. Jim grew up in the rural South as the son of artistic parents and grandparents who had an appreciation for American folk art. His first business, Designs Americana, grew large and fast enough that he had to partner with Enesco to manage the “business” of the business. This partnership allowed Jim to keep creating and today his designs are found in more than 25,000 stores worldwide, searched for 100,000 times per month, is number one on QVC, and producing over $1.2 billion in sales each month. One of his most recent design partnerships has produced the Peanuts line.

Jim says “the most rewarding thing I do is get out and meet the people I work for, people that share an enthusiasm for what I do. For an artist there is no higher compliment.”

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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Great Pumpkin Television Special

Fifty years. That’s how long it has been since Linus started trying to convince the rest of the Peanuts Gang that the Great Pumpkin was coming. The Peanuts special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” debuted on television in 1966 – just before Halloween. Though Linus was the only one who ever believed in the Great Pumpkin, the 50 year anniversary proves that the Great Pumpkin has had a lasting effect that reached far beyond the living room floor.

The Great Pumpkin actually made its appearance in the Peanuts Gang comic strip in 1959. Similar to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin was to visit all of the good boys and girls, leaving presents in the pumpkin patch. At least that’s what Linus believed and said so, every year. In 1966, the television special was created – and like the Great Pumpkin, appeared every year, fittingly around Halloween.

There were several “Charlie Brown” specials – but the Great Pumpkin may have been the best. Its influence made its way into pop-culture with appearances on newer television shows including Robot Chicken, Supernatural and most notably, The Simpsons. The “Great Pumpkin” became the nickname of sports figures Dee Andros and Dan Johnson, a BNSF train – and Braniff Airline – whose decorating scheme was created in the 70’s and leaned heavily on orange.

Linus’s unshakable faith, that no one else really shared, has been seen as a metaphor for everything from religion to man’s struggle with his existence. Was it that complicated? Who knows. Charles Schulz based many of the Peanuts Gang characters and stories on his own life, but he never said where the Great Pumpkin came from – or what it meant. He did like to quote Linus who said “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people, religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin!”

When the Great Pumpkin TV special debuted, it was highly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed. With no TiVo, DVD’s or even VCRs, when a television special came on, children were there. Today – things are different. Their shows are seen as loud, obnoxious and nonsensical by parents and grandparents. Those same kids, sadly, can’t slow down enough to appreciate Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang. At a glance, they all seem quite ordinary but when closely observed, they present a carefully documented picture of life as it was.

For those of us old enough to remember, the Great Pumpkin reminds us of simpler times when we believed, just because we could.

Many of the most memorable scenes from both the Peanuts Gang comic strip – and from the Charlie Brown television specials have been perfectly captured by award-winning collectibles artist, Jim Shore in the Peanuts by Jim Shore collection. Each figurine, is designed in Jim shore’s unmistakable, folk art style and brings every grimace, every eye roll and every celebration into life. Like others of the series, “Linus and the Great Pumpkin” captures the heartwarming tale, of unshakable belief, perfectly.

Source: Virtues for Life

Jim-Shore-ArtistBio-picJim Shore is an award-winning artist whose popularity is the result of a lifetime of dedication, inspiration and plain old hard work. Jim grew up in the rural South as the son of artistic parents and grandparents who had an appreciation for American folk art. His first business, Designs Americana, grew large and fast enough that he had to partner with Enesco to manage the “business” of the business. This partnership allowed Jim to keep creating and today his designs are found in more than 25,000 stores worldwide, searched for 100,000 times per month, is number one on QVC, and producing over $1.2 billion in sales each month. One of his most recent design partnerships has produced the Peanuts line.

Jim says “the most rewarding thing I do is get out and meet the people I work for, people that share an enthusiasm for what I do. For an artist there is no higher compliment.”

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Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown, and “Never Give Up”

For more than half of a decade, the lovable, comicstrip character, Charlie Brown has lived by the motto, “never give up.” Though he is an ordinary kid with an ordinary face, he is extraordinary in his refusal to quit trying. There is no better example of Charlie Brown’s perseverance than his relationship with Lucy and the football. In that way, Charlie Brown is much like his creator, Charles Schulz.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity of the Peanuts Gang knows about Charlie Brown and his ongoing struggle to kick that infernal football held by Lucy. Each time he faces Lucy with her football, he remembers she has always pulled the ball away at the last second. Despite his misgivings, Lucy encourages him to try and promises that “this time” she’ll really let him kick it. Each time, she whisks it away and Charlie Brown ends up flat on his back. Lucy saunters away with sure knowledge that he will be back to try again.

In some ways, Lucy and Charlie Brown are opposites. She is confident, proud, and sure of her success. She pursues her goals with single-minded purpose and does not consider the possibility of failure. Charlie Brown is humble, hesitant, and believes he is destined to lose. In other ways though, they are similar, no matter how they come to the conclusion, neither are quitters.

charles-schulzCharles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts Gang comicstrip, said that his characters were based on bits of family members, people he knew and experiences he had. Named after a coworker, Charlie Brown was a reflection of the “ordinary man,” more like, the ordinary kid. Lucy, was modeled after his daughter, a “fussbudget” who, he claimed, was always in charge. Even Snoopy and the little red-haired girl were real.

From the outside, Charlie Brown may look like a failure. Whether it is flying a kite, testing in school or leading his baseball team, he is a “lovable loser.” He is likable because at the center of his cloud of self-doubt, is an optimist who continues to hope that things will take a turn for the better.   We could all learn a lot from Charlie Brown.

Charles Schulz said that he thought of himself as an “ordinary fellow” and his success was gained only by facing repeated rejection and by never, ever giving up. If Charlie Brown was based on his creator, we can believe that his dogged determination is a winning strategy. Charles Schulz became the most successful cartoonist of his time, with the Peanuts Gang appearing in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries, countless books, and multiple television specials.

Jim Shore’s “Football Lucy & Charlie Brown” perfectly captures Charlie Brown’s determination in the face of potential failure, as represented by Lucy, and we know that Charlie Brown will never give up.

Source: Virtues for Life

Jim-Shore-ArtistBio-picJim Shore is an award-winning artist whose popularity is the result of a lifetime of dedication, inspiration and plain old hard work. Jim grew up in the rural South as the son of artistic parents and grandparents who had an appreciation for American folk art. His first business, Designs Americana, grew large and fast enough that he had to partner with Enesco to manage the “business” of the business. This partnership allowed Jim to keep creating, and today his designs are found in more than 25,000 stores worldwide, searched for 100,000 times per month, is number one on QVC, and produces over $1.2 billion in sales each month. One of his most recent design partnerships has produced the Peanuts line.

Jim says “the most rewarding thing I do is get out and meet the people I work for, people that share an enthusiasm for what I do. For an artist there is no higher compliment.”

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