October 27th, 2011
02:45 PM ET
The classic "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is celebrating its 45th anniversary today. Meaning, if "Great Pumpkin" were a marriage, this would be its sapphire anniversary. Good grief!
The classic Peanuts gang Halloween special originally aired on October 27, 1966. It airs tonight on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
CNN spoke to Neil Cole, President and CEO of Iconix Brand Group, which owns Peanuts Worldwide as a joint venture with the family of Charles Schulz.
"Charles Schulz and the 'Peanuts' characters continue to hold up," said Cole. "They're so human...I think a lot of people can relate to Charlie Brown and how it's not a wonderful night for him - he ends up with a lot of rocks. It kind of makes it special - when you do get the candy - that some of us don't always get the candy, and so I think there's a special story in there."
Incidentally, Cole told us that the line most quoted by fans is "I got a rock."
As for "Great Pumpkin's" ratings over the years, Cole told CNN "It's amazing! Last year we had, I believe, one of our best years ever and the best in the last 10 years. It was the top-rated show for all kids ages 2-11 last year. It's amazing how it continues to resonate."
"Great Pumpkin" was also the first Peanuts TV special to feature two scenarios that became all-too-familiar "Charlie Brown" classics: It was the first time Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown (other than in the comic strip); and "Great Pumpkin" also marked the television debut of Snoopy's World War I Flying Ace. The Flying Ace did appear in the comic strip prior to the special.
Watching "Great Pumpkin" as an adult, I am blown away by the scene where Linus writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin and says, "If you really are a fake, don't tell me. I don't really want to know." It's like the little kid version of Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs." From the mouths of babes, indeed.
How about you? Why do you think "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" still resonates with audiences after 45 years? Keep in mind you'll have to break Linus' "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin" rule in order to share!
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