Good grief! ‘Peanuts’ celebrates 70th anniversary with art

Good grief! ‘Peanuts’ celebrates 70th anniversary with art

NEW YORK — The virus pandemic won’t stop Charlie Brown, Snoopy or the “Peanuts” gang from marking an important birthday and they’re hoping to raise the spirits of sick kids while they celebrate.

The beloved comic celebrates its 70th anniversary this week with new lesson plans, the announcement of a new TV show and a philanthropic push that includes donating “Peanuts” murals for kids to paint in 70 children’s hospitals around the globe, from Brooklyn to Brazil.

“When kids see the familiar face of Snoopy, they feel like they are at home watching the cartoon,” said Dr. Kusum Viswanathan, who heads the pediatrics department at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in New York. “I think it’ll really help in positive coping and distraction. It makes the environment very comfortable, as opposed to being very stiff and professional.”

The 4-foot-8-inch wide by 4-foot-1-inch high murals have been sent to participating hospitals in six pieces, along with smocks, brushes and paints in 13 colours. Children and hospital staffers are encouraged to paint the easy-to-follow templates, a diversion that gains even more importance during coronavirus restrictions.

The initiative is being welcomed at the CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, California, where the virus pandemic has shut down the playrooms and cut back on starry, well-wishing visitors, like baseball star Mike Trout.

“There’s really nothing to look forward to so I thought even just painting something like this at bedside is going to really truly mean something, especially during this time,” said Amber Chavez, the special programs co-ordinator.

The finished murals show an image of Snoopy and Woodstock sharing a laugh atop his red doghouse. It’s co-sponsored by Peanuts Worldwide and the Foundation for Hospital Art. They hope the custom murals bring a smile to worried families.

“Art is always very therapeutic,” Viswanathan said. “Any child who comes — even if a child comes for a regular check-up — it’s always a slightly scary event and I think it helps patients feel a sense of normalcy.”

Jeannie Schulz, the widow of the comic strip’s creator, Charles Schulz, said the initiative hopes to lower the fear level in hospitals: “If you can have a little bit of levity — a little smile — we know that lowers your blood pressure. It’s almost as good as patting a dog.”

How each hospital deploys the murals has been left to the local administrators. Brookdale let lots of children paint them in its auditorium, while the California hospital wants to give one panel each to four patients and two nurses. The hope is the finished murals will offer children a chance to leave a permanent mark on the facility.

“They could come to the hospital for their next check-up and see their mural is out there and they provided the painting maybe for the head or the stomach or whatever part of Snoopy that they did,” Viswanathan said.

Scott Feight, the executive director, of the Foundation for Hospital Art, said the murals represent a chance to “celebrate humanity and our ability to overcome and fight this virus.” The non-profit over the years has donated more than 49,000 paintings to 7,500 hospitals in 195 countries.

Other initiatives launching to celebrate the “Peanuts” anniversary include an animated video campaign on social media urging viewers to be kind to each other, Earth and themselves. There’s also a new Apple TV+ animated show debuting in February called “The Snoopy Show.”

“Peanuts” made its debut Oct. 2, 1950. The travails of the “little round-headed kid” Charlie Brown and his pals eventually ran in more than 2,600 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 75 countries.

The 1965 CBS special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” won an Emmy and rerun immortality, and many other specials followed. There was a hit stage musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” The characters also appeared on sheets, stationery, amusement park attractions and countless other products. Apple TV+ debuted “Snoopy in Space” in 2019.

Jeannie Schulz said her husband managed to create “recognizable characters that express the humanity of each of us. It hits on a lot of cylinders.”

The strip offered enduring images of kites in trees, Charlie Brown trying to kick a football, tart-tongued Lucy handing out advice for a nickel at what looked like a lemonade stand and Snoopy taking the occasional flight of fancy to the skies of World War I. Phrases such as “security blanket” and “good grief” are a part of the global vernacular. Schulz died in 2000.

The hospital administrators say that “Peanuts” teaches children that the world is big enough for everybody, appreciate the small things and embrace friendships. Those lessons, they say, fit with their mission.

“It teaches about kindness and friendship,” Viswanathan said. “It teaches our children that life has challenges but with support from friends, you can solve problems. I think it teaches them not to give up.”


Mark Kennedy is at

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Car thief opening stolen car doors. 
(Black Press File Image)
Idling vehicles attracting thieves, RCMP warns

About one-third of stolen vehicles left idling unattended

Police reveal a collection of drugs, cash and guns seized in an April 2016 bust. One of the men charged was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday.
Advocate file photo
Red Deer man sentenced to 27 months for role in “dial-a-dope” operation

RCMP Priority Crimes Task Force broke up drug operation in April 2016 after four-month investigation

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP traffic stops lead to number of charges

Two different traffic stops conducted by Red Deer RCMP in September led… Continue reading

Boards for the neighbourhood outdoor rink near Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School are in place for the skating season. Like last year, the city will maintain 77 outdoor rinks throughout Red Deer. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Boards going up at outdoor neighbourhood rinks

City of Red Deer will alert public when rinks are ready to use

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Cash and Cars lottery
Sylvan Lake woman wins major prize from Cash and Cars Lottery

Karin Plunkett of Sylvan Lake was a winner in the annual Alberta… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

world affairs
British brinkmanship leaves little hope of a Brexit trade deal

The British pantomime is a traditional Christmas entertainment in which stock characters… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Red Deer city council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 28 about whether to take the future expansion of Molly Banister Drive off the table. (Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff).
Opinion: Molly Banister extension isn’t as important as quality of life

Citizen opposition to the Molly Banister Drive extension has grown since the… Continue reading

Email letters to
I ask myself: ‘What the hell’ has happened to Red Deer?

I moved to Red Deer on Nov. 1, 2001, and I fell… Continue reading

Most Read