Bill Melendez - the only man ever authorized to animate Charlie Brown - has passed away.|
Melendez founded his own production company in 1964 and with his partner Lee Mendelson went on to produce, direct or animate some 70 "Peanuts" TV specials, four movies and hundreds of commercials.If you've never seen his work... go out and pick some of it up. The man was brilliant.
The first special was 1965's "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The show reportedly worried CBS because it broke so much new ground for a cartoon: It lacked a laugh track, used real children as voice actors, had a jazz score and included a scene in which Linus recited lines from the New Testament.
However, the show was a ratings success and has gone on to become a Christmastime perennial.
Melendez created Emmy-winning specials based on the cartoon characters Cathy and Garfield, and was involved in animated versions of the Babar the elephant books and the C.S. Lewis book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."