Based on a Dream: Josť Peterson debuted after Schulz had a dream about creating a half-Swedish, half-Mexican character. He later admitted that the humor of the idea didn't really translate well from dream to real life.
Creator Breakdown: Charles Schulz wanted to continue the strip into at least 2002, but his failing health convinced him to retire when he did.
Dawson Casting: Averted with the animated productions. Charlie Brown was the only character that would always have a working child actor doing his voice.
Executive Meddling: Schulz was never particularly fond of the title "Peanuts", an invention of the syndicate. He was originally going to call it "Lil' Folks", the title of his proto-Peanuts strip, but had to change it because it sounded too much like names of two other strips from the time, Al Capp's Lil' Abner and Little Folks
He specifically worried that the title was confusing; people would just ask "Who's Peanuts?", or refer to it as "Charlie Brown" or "Snoopy". And of course, he was completely right.
Not that it's justified, but the strip started in the 1950s, when the most popular kids' show was The Howdy Doody Show. And where did kids sit on The Howdy Doody Show? The peanut gallery. The person who chose the title fails logicforever.
Schulz's authorized biographer Rheta Grimsley-Johnson argued that it really wasn't that bad of a name. A generic title works well for a strip with Loads and Loads of Characters, and given the direction the strip eventually took, Li'l Folks would have wound up being too awkwardly cutesy.
He Also Did: In the 1950s Schulz drew numerous religious-themed cartoons for magazines and books published by The Church of God, featuring characters that could be seen as teenage versions of the Peanuts gang.
Schulz also co-created a short-lived late 1950s Sunday comic strip about sports called It's Only a Game, though after a while he pretty much let the other co-creator, Jim Sasseville, handle everything.
Then there were the non-Peanuts-related illustrations he did for paperback humor books by Art Linkletter and Bill Adler.
In the animated version of Snoopy: The Musical, Snoopy was played by Cam Clarke, who would go onto become one of the most prolific voice actors in North America. If you've watched a cartoon in the last 25 years, chances are you've heard his voice.
Whenever Snoopy is The Unintelligible, his grunts are provided by none other than Bill Melendez himself.
At one time, Charlie Brown was voiced by ChadAllen.
Sally was voiced by Fergie in a couple of mid-1980s specials (for which she also sang the image songs - remember the beautiful ballad at Snoopy's wedding?) and a 1992 special had her voice provided by Jodie Sweetin.
And Taylor Lautner voiced Joe Agate in the 2006 special "He's A Bully, Charlie Brown". Yes, that Taylor Lautner.
Pamelyn Ferdin who went on to play Fern in "Charlotte's Web" (1973) was the voice of Lucy in "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" and several TV specials.
The 2011 special Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown has Katie Knight as Patty, Raf as Linus, and Tipo as Pigpen.
And for the first run of 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' in 1967, you're invited to imagine the kids not in Minnesota or northern California, but..Ottumwa, Iowa. And imagine that Charlie Brown will be drafted and sent to Korea. That's right, his actor was Gary Burghoff.
For one special in the early 90's, Charlie Brown was Harold Berman.
Linus was Spider-Man in a different early 90's special than the one above.
The Japanese dub is a very interesting case (and just like the original English version, overlaps with The Other Darrin) since all the characters were recasted along the years and, until recently, that version avoided the Cross-Dressing Voices trope with many characters, and some of them, like Linus and Schroeder, for some reason, instead of being voiced by kids or women, like the English version, in Japan both kids has being voiced by males normally typecasted in very masculine roles including some famous ones like Nachi Nozawa (Space Adventure Cobra) and even Toshiyuki Morikawa (Linus) and Kenichi Ono (Schroeder)! For sake of simplicity, they are sorted by character and their voice actors, from the older ones to the newer ones:
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Some specials have still not received a DVD release, notably the live-action/animation blend, "It's The Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown". Though critically panned, some believe it's So Bad, It's Good.
You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown! is another one. It was released on VHS in 1993 exclusively at Shell gas stations (then sponsoring the NFL). Warner Home Video owns the rights to the Peanuts catalog, but this will probably never see a DVD release because it features NFL insignia and team logos.
Not entire specials themselves, but a handful of the earliest specials had Product Placement from Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison Cakes (such as It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown's All-Stars, and, most famously, A Charlie Brown Christmas). These only showed in the first few airings, however, and any remnants of these are pretty much relegated to ancient filmstrip recordings of the specials when they first aired. Thankfully, several of these have been uploaded to YouTube, albeit in varying qualities.
Network to the Rescue: Though their relationship with Schulz grew strained over the years (as noted below), United Feature Syndicate deserves credit for sticking with Peanuts even after a poor start. It debuted in just seven newspapers, two of which dropped it within the first six months.
The first Peanuts book appeared in 1952. It was published mainly because the publishing house's editor-in-chief was an early fan of the strip.note He discovered Peanuts when he happened to notice it in the paper one day after reading a daily column about bridge!
Screwed by the Network: Although Charles Schulz became a very rich man from the strip, he was never able to buy the copyright back from the syndicate- the price was always just a bit more than he could afford (since 1950 the standard contract has changed; now the copyright for Newspaper Comics automatically reverts to the creator after 20 years).
Syndicates owning rights to the comics they distributed was largely standard practice until the 1980s and Bill Watterson's famous fight to prevent Calvin and Hobbes merchandise. After that happened, Creators' Syndicate was founded and comic strip creators owning their work become more common.
During a late 70s contract dispute the syndicate secretly hired DC Comics vet Al Plastino as a possible replacement for Schulz. Plastino drew some spec strips that were shelved after a deal was reached with Schulz. Schulz didn't learn about the situation until long after the fact, and he was understandably ticked off. A couple of Plastino's strips have been leaked, and they're just as cringeworthy as you'd expect.
Snoopy was based on Charles Schulz's childhood dog, Spike. In the 1970s, we meet Snoopy's brother, who is named Spike.
Snoopy's brother Andy was named after a dog that Schulz had in his later years.
Write Who You Know: Both of Schulz's major biographies (Good Grief by Rheta Grimsley-Johnson and Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis) agree that, for a man who preferred his privacy, Schulz put much of his personal life subtly in the strip. Grimsley-Johnson pointed to real people and situations that inspired Schulz. Michaelis went much further, arguing that the mean, restless Lucy was based on Schulz's first wife, and after their divorce (represented in the strip as Lucy getting kicked off the baseball team), Lucy became Lighter and Softer to reflect Schulz's happier second marriage, plus that he revealed his affair with another woman during his first marriage through Snoopy falling in love with another beagle and sending love notes and getting scolded for making long-distance phone calls. There has been some debate over how much of that is legitimate and how much is Wild Mass Guessing on the part of Michaelis.