Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Now I cry, too."

I was flying back from Washington D.C. last night, so I missed the 40th Anniversary airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. But I did read the USA Today article feature on the show. There are some amazing insights here, and it's nice to read the musings of the once-child actors who voiced the characters all those years ago. Still one of my all-time favorites this time of year. It's also something that could never be duplicated in our age today...quoting from the Gospel of Luke as it does.

[Peter] Robbins, who is single, has no children and manages an apartment building in Encino, Calif., loves that kids of friends squeal with delight each Christmas that "Uncle Pete used to be Charlie Brown."

Jeannie Schulz, who was the artist's second wife when they married in 1973, says their five children, 25 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren see the show as a holiday tradition as well.

"The reason it's endured is because of its simplicity and its very basic honesty to real life," she says. "Who would have thought this would last 40 years? How did that happen?"

For many viewers, it is the speech by Linus from Luke near the end that packs the biggest emotional wallop.

Christopher Shea was just 7 when he did the part and credits Melendez's coaching and his mom's doctorate in 17th-century British literature for Linus' lilting eloquence with a Biblical text.

Shea, who now lives in Eureka, Calif., with two daughters, 11 and 16, answers quickly when asked why the special has proved so enduring. "It's the words," he says.

Shea says that for years, in his teens and 20s, he didn't quite understand his soliloquy's impact.

"People kept coming up to me and saying, 'Every time I watch that, I cry,' " he says. "But as I got older, I understood the words more, and I understood the power of what was going on. Now I cry, too."


At 11:52 AM, Blogger FieldOfBarley said...

Wow, I can hear the music!! An annual favorite here, too.


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