"I'm going to be remembered for "A Charlie Brown Christmas". And that's a great thing to be remembered for.. Charlie Brown was Charles Schulz to a certain extent. And he hated bulliness. I think all those 50 years was an attack on bulliness.. He left words in the dictionary like 'security blanket', and 'great pumpkin'.. And the sense of loss, first when he retired and then when he passed away.. was phenomenal. Because whole generations grew up with this guy- his legacy was deep."
About This Interview
Lee Mendelson was interviewed for two hours plus in Hillsborough, CA. Mendelson spoke about his early work in television as a writer-producer at San Francisco's KPIX, including a Peabody Award-winning documentary on the history of California. He discussed other documentaries he produced for television including A Man Named Mays (about baseball player Willie Mays) and Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz. This latter show led to Mendelson's long association with Charles Schulz as the producer of the "Peanuts" specials, including such classics as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Mendelson reminisced about the casting, music, and creation of the specials by Schulz, animator Bill Melendez, and himself. Mendelson also described his later documentary work, including the Emmy-winning NBC special John Steinbeck's 'America and Americans.' Mendelson described other programming he was responsible for such as the acclaimed children's series Hot Dog, which explained to children how things worked. Additionally, Mendelson spoke about the television adaptations of such comic strip characters as "Garfield" and "Cathy," which he produced. B-roll consisted of photos related to the "Charlie Brown Specials," Hot Dog, and his documentary work. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on June 11, 2003.