It’s the 50th anniversary of the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
“It won’t be long now. If the Great Pumpkin comes, I’ll still put in a good word for you!”
Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you!?! You’ve left the eternally optimistic Linus Van Pelt waiting in that pumpkin patch for the last 50 years.
On Oct. 27, 1966, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” debuted on CBS. “The Great Pumpkin” was the third animated special starring Charles Schulz’ Peanuts gang. It’s also the first time Snoopy’s doghouse takes flight on screen and he assumes the persona of a World War I flying ace in an aerial dogfight with the red baron.
Every year for the last half a century, Linus has written a letter to the Great Pumpkin inviting him to visit his pumpkin patch. Linus believes that the Great Pumpkin, not Santa Claus, flies through the air on Halloween night to deliver toys to children of the world and rises from only the most sincere of pumpkin patches — and honestly who is more sincere than Linus Van Pelt? And every year, Linus misses a night of treats to wait for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival that never comes.
Every year, Sally chooses to skip out on the sugary goodness too to wait with her “sweet baboo” while the rest of the kids hit up the neighborhood before Violet’s Halloween bash. And every year, while Lucy, Pig-Pen and the others marvel over their junk food hauls, Charlie Brown expectedly peers into his bag only to find the same thing —a rock. I know they ask for tricks or treats and he’s perpetually unlucky, but I’ve always wondered why EVERY adult decides to trick Charlie Brown. Did all of Charlie Brown’s neighbors get together and coordinate this? Save all your rocks for the neighborhood blockhead?
Executive producer Lee Mendelson said in an interview that following the original airing, viewers felt so bad for Charlie Brown’s bag of rocks, they actually mailed candy and other gifts to the CBS studio.
The fall special remains a timeless classic and you’ll have at least two opportunities to catch it in primetime leading up to Halloween. ABC will air the 50th anniversary showing of the “Great Pumpkin” at 8 p.m. tonight (Oct. 19). It will re-air on Friday, Oct. 28.