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General information  

  • Real name : Charles Monroe Schulz
  • Date of birth : 26/11/26
  • Date of death : 12/02/2000

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  • Schulz M. Charles

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Charles M. Schulz (26)

Charles Monroe Schulz

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  Summary  

Charles Monroe Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000), nicknamed Sparky, was an American cartoonist, whose comic strip Peanuts proved one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.

  Biography  

 early life and education
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schulz grew up in Saint Paul. He was the only child of Carl Schulz, who was born in Germany, and Dena Halverson, who was Norwegian. His uncle called him "Sparky" after the horse Spark Plug in Billy DeBeck's comic strip, Barney Google.

Schulz loved drawing and sometimes drew his family dog, Spike, who ate unusual things, such as pins and tacks. Schulz drew a picture of Spike and sent it to Ripley's Believe It or Not!; his drawing appeared in Robert Ripley's syndicated panel, captioned, "A hunting dog that eats pins, tacks and razor blades is owned by C. F. Schulz, St. Paul, Minn." and "Drawn by 'Sparky'"

Schulz attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he skipped two half-grades. When he was in first grade, his mother helped him get valentines for everybody in his class, so that nobody would be offended by not getting one; but he felt too shy to put them in the box at the front of the classroom, so he took them all home again to his mother.

He became a shy, timid teenager, perhaps as a result of being the youngest in his class at Central High School. One episode in his high school life was the rejection of his drawings by his high school yearbook. Much to its irony, a statue of Snoopy was placed in Central's main office sixty years later.

 career
Schulz's first regular cartoons, Li'l Folks, were published from 1947 to 1950 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; the first of 17 single-panel cartoons by Schulz that would be published there. In 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 from the Pioneer Press in January 1950.

Later that year, Schulz approached the United Feature 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 he abandoned it due to the demands of the successful Peanuts. From 1956 to 1965 he contributed a single-panel strip ("Young Pillars") featuring teenagers to Youth, a publication associated with the Church of God.

In 1957 and 1961 he illustrated two volumes of Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things, and in 1964 a collection of letters, Dear President Johnson, by Bill Adler.


Charlie Brown, the principal character for Peanuts, was named after a co-worker at the Art Instruction School; Schulz drew much more inspiration from his own life:

  • Like Charlie Brown's parents, Schulz's father was a barber and his mother a housewife.
  • Schulz and Charlie Brown were shy and withdrawn.
  • Schulz had a dog when he was a boy, although unlike Snoopy the beagle, it was a pointer.
  • References to Snoopy's brother Spike living outside of Needles, California were likely influenced by the few years (1928–1930) that the Schulz family lived there; they had moved to Needles to join other family members who had relocated from Minnesota to tend to an ill cousin.
  • Schulz's "Little Red-Haired Girl" was Donna Mae Johnson, an Art Instruction Schools accountant with whom he fell in love. When Schulz proposed to her, she turned him down and married another man.
  • Linus and Shermy were both named for good friends of his .
  • Peppermint Patty was inspired by Patricia Swanson, one of his cousins on his mother's side.The name came from the candy "Peppermint Patties."

 Influences
The Charles M. Schulz Museum counts Milton Caniff and Bill Mauldin as key influences on Schulz's work. In his own strip, Schulz regularly described Snoopy's annual Veterans Day visits with Mauldin, including mention of Mauldin's World War II cartoons.

Critics have also credited George Herriman , Roy Crane , Elzie C. Segar and Percy Crosby among Schulz's influences. However,

It would be impossible to narrow down three or two or even one direct influence on [Schulz's] personal drawing style. The uniqueness of Peanuts has set it apart for years... That one-of-kind quality permeates every aspect of the strip and very clearly extends to the drawing. It is purely his with no clear forerunners and no subsequent pretenders.
Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz, Rheta Grimsley Johnson, p. 68

 personal life
In 1951, Schulz moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The same year, Schulz married Joyce Halverson. His son, Monte, was born at this time, with their three further children being born later, in Minnesota. He painted a wall in that home for his adopted daughter Meredith Hodges, featuring Patty, Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The wall was removed in 2001 and donated to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.

Schulz and his 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 unaired television documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Some of the footage was eventually used in a later documentary, Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz. The original documentary is available on DVD from the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

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 until his death.

By Thanksgiving 1970, it was clear that Schulz's first marriage was in trouble, and their divorce was final in 1972. Schulz married Jean Forsyth Clyde in 1973; they met when Jean brought her daughter to Schulz's hockey rink.


Schulz had a long association with ice sports, and both figure skating and ice hockey featured prominently in his cartoons. In Santa Rosa, he was the owner of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which opened in 1969 and featured a snack bar called "The Warm Puppy". Schulz's daughter Amy served as a model for the figure skating in the 1980 television special She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown.

Schulz also was very active in senior ice-hockey tournaments; in 1975, he formed Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena, and in 1981, Schulz was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to the sport of hockey in the United States.

Schulz also enjoyed playing golf and was a member of the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club from 1959 to 2000.

In 1982, Schulz underwent heart bypass surgery. During his hospital stay, President Reagan called him on the phone to wish him a quick recovery.

On Sunday, May 8, 1988, two gunmen wearing ski masks entered the cartoonist's home through an unlocked door, planning to kidnap Jean Schulz, but the attempt failed when the couple's daughter, Jill, drove up to the house, prompting the would-be kidnappers to flee. She saw what was happening and called the police from a neighbor's house. Sonoma County Sheriff Dick Michaelsen said, "It was obviously an attempted kidnap-ransom. This was a targeted criminal act. They knew exactly who the victims were." Neither Schulz nor his wife were hurt during the incident.

In 1998, Schulz hosted the first Over 75 Hockey Tournament. In 2001, Saint Paul renamed the Highland Park Ice Arena the Charles M. Schulz Highland Arena in his honor.

 death
Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years, almost without interruption. During the life of the strip, Schulz took only one vacation, a five-week break in late 1997 to celebrate his 75th birthday; reruns of the strip ran during his vacation. At its peak, Peanuts appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries. Schulz stated that his routine every morning consisted of eating a jelly donut and sitting down to write the day's strip. After coming up with an idea , he began drawing it, which took about an hour for dailies and three hours for Sunday strips. He stubbornly refused to hire an inker or letterer, saying that "it would be equivalent to a golfer hiring a man to make his putts for him." In November 1999 Schulz suffered several small strokes along with a blocked aorta and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer that had metastasized. Because of the chemotherapy and the fact he could not read or see clearly, he announced his retirement on December 14, 1999. This was difficult for Schulz, and he was quoted as saying to Al Roker on The Today Show, "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. I did not take it away. This has been taken away from me." In his later years, Schulz also suffered from Parkinson's Disease. As a result, he experienced hand tremors that made his linework shaky. He admitted that the tremors sometimes were so bad that while working, he had to hold onto the side of his desk with one hand to steady himself. In addition, he had to reduce the strip from four panels to three to reduce the amount of drawing.

Charles Schulz died in his sleep at home around 9:45 p.m. on February 12, 2000. Although he was dying of cancer, he suffered a fatal heart attack. The last original Peanuts strip was published the very next day, on Sunday, February 13, 2000, just hours after his death the night before. Schulz was buried at Pleasant Hills Cemetery in Sebastopol, California.

Schulz indicated 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 had legal ownership of the strip, but honored his wishes, instead syndicating reruns of the strip to newspapers. New television specials have also been produced since Schulz's death, but the stories are based on previous strips, and Schulz always stated that Peanuts TV shows were entirely separate from the strip.

Schulz had been asked if, for his final Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown would finally get to kick that football after so many decades. His response: "Oh, no! Definitely not! I couldn't have Charlie Brown kick that football; that would be a terrible disservice to him after nearly half a century." Yet, in a December 1999 interview, holding back tears, he recounted the moment when he signed the panel of his final strip, saying, “All of a sudden I thought, 'You know, that poor, poor kid, he never even got to kick the football. What a dirty trick — he never had a chance to kick the football!'”

He was posthumously honored on May 27, 2000, by cartoonists of more than 100 comic strips paying homage to him and Peanuts.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Charles M. Schulz", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.