The Surprising Controversy Behind 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'

Everyone's favorite animated Halloween special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown aired Thursday night and while many bask in the warmth of the 30-minute classic every year, there was initially a lot of pressure on the Peanuts classic when it first aired in the '60s.

According to Harper Collins' behind-the-scenes guide detailing facts about the Halloween special, executive producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez held high hopes for their 1965 production, A Charlie Brown Christmas. But upon first screening the festive cartoon, the two were under the impression it wouldn't exactly live up to its potential, with its original network home CBS agreeing.

The network suggested it would be the last Peanuts special they would buy if it didn't surpass their expectations.

Feeling like a Charlie Brown miracle in itself though, the ratings for the Christmas themed show were huge with CBS asking for more, which prompted the creative team to deliver another hit — this time with their baseball-themed feature, Charlie Brown All-Stars.

However, with CBS thinking long-term results for a returning fanbase, the network requested a special that could run every year similarly to A Charlie Brown Christmas on the condition Mendelson would work on it. If he wasn't a part of it, CBS threatened to drop the option for a fourth show. While the stipulations annoyed Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and his collaborators, the team came up with a seasonal story that would be rerun gold, finally producing, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The special has now aired on ABC for almost 20 years since CBS lost the rights to its three popular holiday specials in 2000, according to a report from Variety. But that has not bothered fans one bit. In fact, fans new and old embrace the heartwarming special year in and out, with many taking to Twitter Thursday evening to express their love for the Peanuts gang.

In the beloved 1966 animated special, the Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween with Linus hoping he will finally receive a visit from The Great Pumpkin, while Charlie Brown is invited to a Halloween party.

The festive special was executive produced Mendelson, produced and directed by Melendez, created and written by Schulz and with music composed by the legendary, Vince Guaraldi.

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The full-length version of the classic animated Peanuts special will re-air Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC alongside a bonus cartoon, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a subtle reminder for the midterm elections.

Photo credit: 1966 United Feature Syndicate Inc