The Throwback: 'Great Pumpkin' at 45
October 27th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

The Throwback: 'Great Pumpkin' at 45

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."
Have you ever pulled a Linus and spent the night sitting in a pumpkin patch? According to Peanuts Worldwide Public Relations Vice President Melissa Menta, many a would-be Linus impersonators has attempted to wait out the Great Pumpkin.

"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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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Roger Ebert

    Not only one of those Charlie Brown specials I hate, But also one of the worst Charlie Brown specials ever because I do not really like Snoopy as the WW1 flying ace very much he started to get on my nerves how sick to look at and not a fan of his rubbish alter-ego not that great.

    December 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. T

    I love this program and have been watching it every year.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. loJenk

    October 28, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. TJ

    I love it's the Great Pumpkin but if you want more laughs of Charlie Brown then watch "Race for your life Charlie Brown", it's hysterical.

    October 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dee

    I still watch this beloved classic and now with my 15 year old daughter who loves it too. I love Charlie Brown and the gang and look forward to watching "It's a Charlie Brown Christmas"!!!

    October 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |


    October 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AllHallowSteve

    Even though all us fans have it to watch on DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, Streaming and other media, nothing beats the serendipity of watching it live while it's broadcast on TV. I still get excited minutes before the first frame airs.

    October 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pumpkin E=MC2

    Sorry wrote it wrong.

    October 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pumpkin E=MC*

    @Dani, I too saw the first one, I was 7. Always watch all the Peanuts shows. They're timeless.

    October 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dani

    I'm old enough to remember when The Great Pumpkin first aired on TV back in the mid-1960's. I was nine years old. I'm 55 now and still watch it for sentimental reasons. I'lll have the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas specials to watch too! Still a child at heart, I guess.

    October 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Elmer

    The Thanksgiving Special is also so wonderful. But nothing beats poor Charlie Browns ghost costume with a hundered eye holes, plus the funny way grownups talk on it.

    October 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elmer

    I Love The Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown. As Lucy says, he is the Charlie Browniest.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    GREAT!!! Can't nothing touch it for holiday viewing. True Class!!

    October 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • hcglevelsinpregnancy

      I just watched this with my 6 year old daughter last night. She is such a Great Pumpkin fan. Hard to believe this classic has been on around Halloween time for 45 years!

      April 3, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |

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