Birth of Charles Schulz

2001 34¢ Peanuts
US #3507 – Snoopy frequently imagined himself as a WWI flying ace ready to take on the Red Baron.

Famed cartoonist Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 26, 1922. He created the beloved Peanuts characters, personally creating 17,897 comic strips and overseeing 37 television specials.

2001 34¢ Peanuts Fleetwood First Day Cover
US #3507 – Fleetwood First Day Cover

From an early age, Charles Schulz had an affection for both comic strips and drawing. Every Sunday he and his father sat down together to read the funnies. The younger Schulz’s favorites included Skippy, Mickey Mouse, and Popeye. Schulz frequently drew the family dog, Spike, who had a habit of eating odd objects such as pins and tacks. In 1937, he sent a drawing of Spike to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and Robert Ripley published it in his syndicated panel.

2001 34¢ Peanuts Classic First Day Cover
US #3507 – Classic First Day Cover

Schulz was intelligent and talented. He skipped two half-grades in school, but became shy as he was the youngest in his class. He grew even more timid after his drawings were rejected by his high school yearbook. Around this time, Schulz began taking a correspondence cartoon course with the Art Instructions School.

2015 49¢ A Charlie Brown Christmas
US #5021-30 were issued for the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
2015 49¢ A Charlie Brown Christmas Fleetwood First Day Covers with Digital Color Postmarks
US #5021-30 – Fleetwood First Day Covers with Digital Color Postmarks

In 1943, Schulz was drafted into the Army, serving as a staff sergeant in the 20th Armored Division. He served as a squad leader on a .50 caliber machine gun team, seeing service at the very end of the war. Schulz returned home a proud veteran and continued to follow his passion for art. He worked for the magazine Timeless Topix and graded student work for Art Instruction, Inc.

2022 First-Class Forever Charles M. Schultz Digital Color Postmark Set of 10 First Day Covers
Item #MCV083 – Classic First Day Covers with Digital Color Postmarks
2022 Charles Schultz Fold & Mail Stationary Set, includes 10 Mint Stamps, 10 Pieces of Stationary and Assorted Stickers
Item #MUS074 – 2022 Charles Schultz Fold & Mail Stationary Set, includes 10 Mint Stamps, 10 Pieces of Stationary and Assorted Stickers

In June 1947, Schulz published his first weekly cartoon, Li’l Folks. The one-panel comic appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press every week until January 1950. The characters looked similar to his later Peanuts gang and he used the name Charlie Brown for several children. Some of Schulz’s comics also appeared in the Saturday Evening Post during this time.

2022 Charles Schulz Sheet of 20
US #5726 – 2022 stamps issued for Schulz’s 100th birthday

When Li’l Folks was dropped from the Pioneer Press in January 1950, Schulz started looking for another way to publish his comics. He also began work on Peanuts – a new four-panel comic. United Feature Syndicate liked this new strip and the first Peanuts Comic appeared in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950. It was then added to the Sunday comics in January 1952. The Peanuts’ rise in popularity didn’t happen overnight, but over the years it grew to become one of the most popular comic strips in the world.

In 1965, Schulz took his characters to a new medium with his first animated TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which won an Emmy. This was the first of 37 television specials Schulz would oversee during his lifetime. His characters also appeared in feature films, mini series, and television shows.

2001 Gibraltar Peanuts Christmas
Gibraltar #890-94 – issued for Christmas 2001

Even in his later years, Schulz refused to accept the help of an inker or letterer, claiming “it would be equivalent to a golfer hiring a man to make his putts for him.” In the nearly 50 years the strip was printed, Schulz took just one vacation – for his 75th birthday. At its height, shortly before his retirement, the Peanuts appeared in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and 21 languages. As his health began to decline, Schulz announced his retirement on December 14, 1999. He died in his sleep on February 12, 2000, with the final Peanuts strip publishing the following day. As he’d predicted, his comic strip outlived him.

2001 Gibraltar Peanuts Christmas stamp sheet
Gibraltar #894a – 2001 Peanuts Christmas stamp sheet

Schulz received a number of honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Congressional Gold Medal, and space vehicles named after his characters. As fellow cartoonist Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) put it, “Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip… Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.”

2018 Germany stamps honoring the Peanuts
Item #M12183 – 2018 Germany stamps honoring the Peanuts

Click here for more about Schulz and click here for more about the Peanuts gang.

FREE printable This Day in History album pages
Download a PDF of today’s article.
Get a binder or other supplies to create your This Day in History album.

Discover what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:

[Total: 78 Average: 4.9]

Share this article

2 responses to "Birth of Charles Schulz"

2 thoughts on “Birth of Charles Schulz”

  1. It’s a good thing that he eventually went to animated TV because these days it’s becoming more and more difficult to even find a newspaper to carry printed comics.

    Reply
  2. My Fathers best Friend, Rev. Roger W Palmquist worked with Charles Schultz as a cartoonist in the early 50s. He later became an ordained minister however Peanuts was always part of him! He was noted in the evangelical Covenant Church for his CHALK TALKS and Charlie Brown and pals would be Incorporated with positive messages of faith. Out of all the adults in my life UNCLE ROGER meant the most to me I still have all the drawings he gave me!!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Love history?

Discover events in American history – plus the stamps that make them come alive.

Subscribe to get This Day in History stories straight to your inbox every day!