The last daily “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz ran on January 3, 2000. Check out these five things you may not have known about one of the most popular comic strips of all time…
- Schulz Died the Night Before His Last Sunday Strip Ran. On February 12, 2000, the 77-year-old cartoonist died at his home in Santa Rosa, California, the day before his last Sunday Peanuts strip was in newspapers. Schulz had stated in his syndicate contract that no one else could create the comic strip he’d drawn for nearly half a century. In all, he produced 17,897 Peanuts strips: 15,391 daily strips and 2,506 Sunday strips.
- Many of The Peanuts Characters Were Inspired by Real People and Events. Charlie Brown was named after a friend Schulz had when he lived in Minneapolis while attending art classes. Schulz loosely based Snoopy on a black-and-white pet dog named Spike he had as a teenager. He originally planned to call his cartoon dog Sniffy, but before the comic strip kicked off Schulz learned there was a comic magazine featuring a dog with the same name. So he was in need of a new name, Schulz remembered his mother’s suggestion that the family should name their next dog “Snoopy.” Finally, another character, a yellow bird called Woodstock, was named for the 1969 landmark music festival.
- The Comic Strip Had Bad Ratings at First. The comic strip originally appeared in seven newspapers in October 1950, and by the time its first year ended, it was listed as last in reader survey. By the end of “Peanuts” had syndication in more than 2,600 newspapers and was read in 75 countries by more than 350 million fans. Its popularity spun off “Peanuts” merchandise that ranged from stuffed toys to pajamas and greeting cards, which are still popular.
- Snoopy Wasn’t the Only Puppy in the Litter. Spike, Snoopy’s litter mate, appeared in the comic strip in 1975 and was named after a dog Charles Schulz had as a teen. Snoopy had several other siblings named Molly and Belle, Marbles, Andy, Olaf, and Rover. Charlie Brown was Snoopy’s second owner because the little girl who first adopted the cute beagle had to return him to the puppy farm because she couldn’t keep him.
- A Reader Suggested Adding a Black Character. An LA schoolteacher wrote to Schulz shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., suggesting he introduce a black character into Peanuts. This began a correspondence between Schulz and the teacher that led to his creation of Franklin. Introduced on July 31, 1968, Franklin was the first African American character in the strip. In his first story line, he met Charlie Brown when they were both at the beach. His last appearance was in 1999, the year before Schulz’s death.