Charlie Brown TV specials creator Lee Mendelson dead at 86

Charlie Brown TV specials creator Lee Mendelson dead at 86

Lee Mendelson, the man behind the Charlie Brown TV specials, has died.

The longtime producer of the Peanuts adaptations, who also wrote the lyrics for festive tune Christmas Time Is Here, passed away on Christmas Day (25Dec19) at the age of 86.

His sons have confirmed the news, revealing the A Charlie Brown Christmas producer lost a long battle with lung cancer.

"It wasn’t great for us, but to have him pass on Christmas really ties into his history and legacy," they said in a statement.

Mendelson first collaborated with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz after the cartoonist saw the producer's documentary about baseball legend Willie Mays in the mid 1960s. Their first project together was A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Lee also recruited Vince Guaraldi to compose and record the now famous jazzy music for the TV special. Upon hearing the instrumental Christmas Time Is Here, Mendelson felt the track needed lyrics and so he wrote his own.

A Charlie Brown Christmas won an Emmy Award in 1966 for Outstanding Children’s Program and launched a collaboration between Mendelson Productions and the Peanuts brand, which has spanned over 50 years.

Lee's other Peanuts specials include It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. He returned to the franchise in 2015 for It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown, which picked up the Outstanding Children’s Program Emmy Award in 2016.

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