On this day in 1965, the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on television on CBS. Since 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas has aired during every Christmas season, 48 years running.
The production of A Charlie Brown Christmas was done with a limited budget, resulting in (apparently) a choppy animation style and poorly mixed sound. In one scene where Schroeder stops playing the piano, all the children continue dancing awkwardly for a couple of seconds. Bill Melendez, the producer of A Charlie Brown Christmas, wished to correct this issue, however this idea was vetoed by Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts. The voice overs for the characters were performed by children who had little experience with voice work. In fact, the child that voiced Sally was so young that she was cued “line by line” throughout recording!
Despite these faults with this TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas came to be a critical and commercial success. Almost 50% of televisions in the United States were tuned to the first broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas on December 9th, 1965. A Charlie Brown Christmas would go on to win an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award. The success of A Charlie Brown Christmas would spawn further holiday-themed Peanuts TV specials, including: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973), I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003), and many more.