ABC celebrating 50 Years Of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Nov 2, 2015

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" first aired on CBS in 1965.
Credit United Feature Syndicate

Fifty years? Good grief! “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” first broadcast reluctantly by CBS in 1965, will air twice on ABC before Christmas, along with a one-hour musical salute to the award-winning cartoon.

ABC also celebrates the 20th anniversary of “Toy Story,” with a one-hour tribute in December to Pixar Animation Studios which revolutionized computer-generated animation.

“It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown” airs 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30 (Channel 9, ABC), as the TV networks start filling their channels with holiday programming the four weeks leading up to Christmas. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” follows at 9 p.m. Nov. 30.

Kristen Bell (“Frozen”) hosts the special featuring performances by Kristen Chenoweth, Sarah McLachlan, Boyz II Men, Pentatonix, David Benoit, The All-American Boys Chorus and Matthew Morrison.

There’s no mention in the release of all the drama at CBS before the cartoon aired in 1965: CBS executives didn’t like Linus quoting the Bible, or the anti-commercialism message (on a commercial TV network!), the absence of adult voices, or Vince Guaraldi’s jazz music. Of course, the TV executives were wrong.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the first-ever Peanuts TV special, was a huge ratings hit, and won an Emmy Award and a prestigious Peabody Award. It has aired every year since, and prompted CBS, ABC and Fox to order dozens more Peanuts TV shows.

Both shows repeat Christmas Eve.

The “Toy Story 20th Anniversary Special” airs 8 p.m.Thursday, Dec. 10, followed by “Toy Story” (9-11 p.m., Channel 9, ABC).  The special includes comments from the producers, animators, technical artists, designers and some of the film’s voice talent and probably some talk about the “Toy Story 4” sequel due out in June 2018.