A scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Image via Wikimedia Commons
A scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Image via Wikimedia Commons

Good grief, Charlie Brown. Can it really be 50 years since “A Charlie Brown Christmas” first aired on national TV?

The annual holiday classic, which first appeared in 1965 on CBS, was originally thought to be a dim failure.

“We just thought it was a little slow, and it was certainly not a traditional Christmas show,” producer Lee Mendelson told the Los Angeles Times. Mendelson is credited with convincing famously shy Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz to allow turning his cartoon strip into an animated holiday half-hour special.

Even CBS executives were disappointed when first seeing it. “Well, you gave it a good try,” one of the top brass told Mendelson, he recalled.

Despite their misgivings, the Charlie Brown Christmas special has become almost required viewing for the full holiday experience for many Americans. The golden anniversary show will air Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC. That network acquired the rights in 2001. Prior to the showing, ABC will screen an hour-long program about the making and history of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

“It became part of everybody’s Christmas holidays,” said Mendelson, now 82.

Even the show’s main musical theme, a jazz-infused “Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi, has become a standard holiday hit.

— MyNewsLA.com staff writer

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