The last daily "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles Schulz ran on January 3, 2000. Many of the 2,600 newspapers that carried Peanuts ran the farewell strip on their front page. Here are five things you didn't know about one of the most popular and influential comic strips of all time...
The Comic Strip Had Bad Ratings at First The comic strip “Peanuts” appeared in seven newspapers in October 1950, and by the time its first year in publication ended, it was listed as last in reader survey popularity. The comic strip ended up having syndication in more than 2,600 newspapers and was read in 75 countries by more than 350 million fans. Its popularity spun off “Peanuts” merchandise that ranged from stuffed toys to pajamas and greeting cards, which are still popular today.
Snoopy Wasn’t the Only Puppy in the Litter Spike, Snoopy’s brother, appeared in the comic strip in 1975 and was named after a dog Charles Schulz had as a child. Snoopy had six other siblings named Molly and Belle, Marbles, Andy, Olaf, and Rover. Charlie Brown was Snoopy’s second owner since the little girl who originally adopted the cute beagle had to return him to the puppy farm because she couldn’t keep him.
Many of The Peanuts Characters Were Inspired by Real People and Events Charlie Brown was named after a friend Schulz had when he was in Minneapolis attending art classes. Schulz loosely based Snoopy on a black-and-white dog named Spike he had as a teenager. The cartoonist originally planned to call his cartoon dog Sniffy, but shortly before the comic strip launched Schulz learned there was a comic magazine featuring a dog with the same name. Now in need of a new name, Schulz remembered his mother’s suggestion that the family should name their next dog “Snoopy.” Another character, a yellow bird called Woodstock, was named for the 1969 landmark music festival.
A Reader Suggested Adding a Black Character A Los Angeles schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman wrote to Schulz shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., urging him to introduce a black character into Peanuts. This began a correspondence between Schulz and Glickman that led to Schulz's creation of Franklin. Introduced on July 31, 1968, Franklin was the first African American character in the strip. In his first story arc, he met Charlie Brown when they were both at the beach. His last appearance was in 1999, the year before Schulz's death.
Schulz Died the Night Before His Last Sunday Strip Ran On February 12, 2000, the 77-year-old cartoonist died at his home in Santa Rosa, California, the day before his last Sunday Peanuts strip appeared in newspapers. Schulz had stipulated in his syndicate contract that no one else could take over the comic strip he’d drawn for nearly half a century. In all, Schulz produced 17,897 Peanuts strips: 15,391 daily strips and 2,506 Sunday strips.