Charles Monroe Schulz was a 20th-century American cartoonist best
known worldwide for his Peanuts comic strip.
Charles M. Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Dena and
Carl Schulz and grew up in Saint Paul. His uncle nicknamed him
"Sparky" after the horse Spark Plug in the Barney Google
attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he
skipped two half-grades. He became a shy and isolated teenager,
perhaps as a result of being the youngest in his class at Central
High School. After his mother died in February 1943, he was drafted
into the United States Army and sent to Camp Campbell in Kentucky.
was shipped to Europe two years later to fight in World War II
as an infantry squad leader with the U.S. 20th Armored Division.
After leaving the army in 1945, he took a job as an art teacher
at Art Instruction Inc., from which he had taken correspondence
courses before he was drafted.
drawings were first published by Robert Ripley in his Ripley's
Believe It or Not!, then in a Catholic comic book series called
Topix. His first regular cartoons, Li'l Folks, were published
from 1947 to 1949 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press; he first used
the name Charlie Brown for a character there, although he applied
the name in four gags to three different boys and one buried in
sand. The series also had a dog that looked much like Snoopy.
In 1948, Schulz sold a cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post; seventeen
single-panel cartoons by Schulz would be published there.
1948, Schulz tried to have Li'l Folks syndicated through the Newspaper
Enterprise Association. Schulz would have been an independent
contractor for the syndicate, unheard of in the 1940s, but the
deal fell through. Li'l Folks was dropped in 1949. The next year,
Schulz approached the United Features Syndicate with his best
strips from Li'l Folks, and Peanuts made its first appearance
on October 2, 1950. The strip became one of the most popular comic
strips of all time. He also had a short-lived sports-oriented
comic strip called It's Only a Game (1957-1959), but abandoned
it due to the demands of the successful Peanuts.
Brown, the principle character for Peanuts, was named after a
co-worker at the Art Instruction Schools; he drew much of his
inspiration, however, from his own life:
Charlie Brown, Schulz's father was a barber and his mother a housewife.
Schulz had a dog when he was a boy. Unlike Snoopy, it was a pointer.
Eventually, it was revealed that Snoopy had a desert-dwelling
brother named Spike. So was Schulz's dog.
Schulz was also shy and withdrawn.
"Little Red-Haired Girl" was Donna Johnson, an Art Instruction
Schools accountant with whom he had a relationship. She rejected
his marriage proposal, but remained a friend for the rest of his
Schulz's Patty character was modeled after his first wife. She
rarely appeared in the comic strip after their divorce. A different
Patty - Peppermint Patty - appeared much more often.
Schulz saved his Peanuts strip on June 6 every year to memorialize
comrades who died at Normandy.
had a friend named Charlie Brown.
moved briefly to Colorado Springs, Colorado. He painted a wall
in that home for his daughter Meredith, featuring Patty, Charlie
Brown and Snoopy. The wall was removed in 2001 and donated to
the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. The restored
artwork by Schulz is printed in the paperback edition of Chip
Kidd's book Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz.
family returned to Minneapolis and stayed until 1958. They then
moved to Sebastopol, California, where Schulz built his first
studio. It was here that Schulz was interviewed for the unmade
television documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Some of the
footage was eventually used in a later documentary titled Charlie
Brown and Charles Schulz. Schulz's father died while visiting
him in 1966, the same year his Sebastopol studio burned down.
By 1969, Schulz had moved to Santa Rosa, California, where he
lived and worked for over 30 years.
Schulz was married twice. He married Joyce Halverson in 1951 and
had five children. Their eldest son is author Monte Schulz. Schulz
and Halverson divorced in 1972. Charles married his second wife,
Jean Forsyth Clyde, in 1973, and remained with her until his death.
Schulz touched on religious themes in his work, including the
classic television cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965),
which features the character Linus van Pelt quoting the King James
Version of the Bible (Luke 2:8-14) to explain "what Christmas
is all about." In personal interviews Schulz mentioned that
Linus represented his spiritual side. Schulz, reared in the Lutheran
faith, had been active in the Church of God (Anderson) as a young
adult and then later taught Sunday school at a United Methodist
the late 1980s he told one of his biographers (Rheta Grimsley
Johnson, 1989) that he identified with Secular Humanism. In the
Sixties, Robert L. Short interpreted certain themes and conversations
in Peanuts as being consistent with parts of Christian theology,
as he (Short) explained in his bestselling paperback book, The
Gospel According to Peanuts. Schulz did not endorse Short's specific
interpretations and often said that "the only theology is
no theology," yet Schulz gave permission to use many of his
strips in the book, and his newspaper comics continued to have
enough theological themes to fill many Sunday School lessons.
Schulz seemed concerned about having his strip narrowly viewed
as a religious themed comic, and believed it had many more simple
insights into life that went beyond a specifically defined theology.
Schulz received the National Cartoonist Society Humor Comic Strip
Award in 1962 for Peanuts, the Society's Elzie Segar Award in
1980, their Reuben Award for 1955 and 1964, and their Milton Caniff
Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He was also a hockey fan and
was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.
On June 28, 1996, Schulz was honored with a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame, adjacent to Walt Disney's. A replica of this star
appears outside his former studio in Santa Rosa. On June 7, 2001
the United States Congress posthumously awarded Schultz the Congressional
Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the US legislature can
award. Schulz's widow, Jean, accepted the award on behalf of her
late husband. Schulz is a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award,
the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America, for
his service to American youth.
Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years without interruption and had appeared
in over 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries. In November 1999 Schulz
had a stroke, and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer
that had metastasized to his stomach. Because of the chemotherapy
and the fact he couldn't read or see clearly, he announced his
retirement on December 14, 1999, at the age of 77. This was difficult
for Schulz, and he was quoted as saying "I never dreamed
that this would happen to me. I always had the feeling that I
would stay with the strip until I was in my early eighties, or
something like that. But all of sudden it's gone. It's been taken
away from me. I did not take it away. This was taken away from
died in Santa Rosa of a heart attack at 9:45 p.m. on February
12, 2000. He was interred in Pleasant Hills Cemetery in Sebastopol.
The last original strip ran on February 13, 2000, including a
statement from Schulz that his family wished for the strip to
end when he was no longer able to produce it. Schulz had previously
predicted that the strip would outlive him, with his reason being
that comic strips are usually drawn weeks before their publication.
As part of his will, Schulz had requested that the Peanuts characters
remain as authentic as possible and that no new comic strips based
on them be drawn. United Features has legal ownership of the strip,
but his wishes have been honored, although reruns of the strip
are still being syndicated to newspapers.
2000, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors rechristened the
Sonoma County - Charles M. Schulz Airport in his honor. The airport's
amusing logo features Snoopy in goggles and scarf, taking to the
skies on top of his red doghouse. The Charles M. Schulz Museum
in Santa Rosa opened on August 17, 2002, two blocks away from
his former studio and celebrates his life's work and art of cartooning.
A bronze statue of Charlie Brown and Snoopy stands in Depot Park
in downtown Santa Rosa.
Magazine has rated Schulz the "highest paid deceased person"
in America, with his estate continuing to garner income totaling
more than $32 million since his passing. According to the book
"Where Are They Buried?" (as well as other sources),
Charles M. Schulz's income during his lifetime totaled more than
$1.1 billion, a true testament the impact Schulz had on three
generations of Americans who grew up with the Peanuts gang and
"good Ol' Charlie Brown".
despise those shallow religious comics. Dennis the Menace, for
instance, is the most shallow. When they show him praying -- I
just can't stand that sort of thing, talking to God about some
cutesy thing that he'd done during the day. I don't think Hank
Ketcham has any deep knowledge of things like that."
term that best describes me now is 'secular humanist.'"
worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow