“[Charles Schulz] put together a very unconventional program. First, children voiced over the children’s parts. This was something that the CBS executives were not happy with; the sponsors didn’t have a problem. The second thing was there was no laugh track. Charles Schulz didn’t believe we should be guiding people when and where to laugh. And last, and most important, was the scene in which Linus goes up onto the stage and recounts the Gospel of Luke.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first prime-time animated TV special based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Meléndez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy.
Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is also one of CBS’s most successful specials, airing annually more times on that network than even MGM’s classic motion picture The Wizard of Oz.