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 Charles Monroe Schulz  (1922 - 2000)

About: Charles Monroe Schulz
 

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Lived/Active: California/Minnesota      Known for: illustration-cartoons

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BIOGRAPHY for Charles Schulz
Facts/Data
Birth
1922 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
 
Death
2000 (Santa Rosa, California)

Lived/Active
California/Minnesota

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles Schulz, the artist and writer of Peanuts, became one of the wealthiest men in America by using his childhood insecurities and failures as material for his comic strip. Charlie Brown, the strips likable loser, shared more than a first name with his creator and was inspired by Schulz bittersweet memories of his Midwestern boyhood.

Charles Monroe Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  His father, like Charlie Brown's, was a barber.  Schulz parents nicknamed him Sparky after the racehorse Spark Plug in one of his favorite newspaper strips, Barney Google.  He read the funnies avidly; copying all the characters he was fond of, especially those in Segar's Thimble Theatre and Percy Crosby's Skippy.

Schulz skipped two grades in school, but still had to struggle with his studies.  He was'nt very good at sports, felt he was awkward, had a bad complexion, was shy with girls, and had painful memories of having his cartoons rejected by the high school yearbook.

While still in school, he started taking the Art Instruction Schools correspondence course in cartooning.  During World War II, he served in the Army and was sent to Europe. Upon his return, he got a job with his old correspondence school and was employed there for five years.  He became a letterer for Topix, a religious comic book.  In his spare time, the determined Schulz sent gag cartoons to magazines, collecting a large quantity of rejection slips before he succeeded in selling a cartoon to The Saturday Evening Post in 1948.

In that same year, he started drawing a feature entitled Lil Folks for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  It ran for two years, and in 1950, after repeated "mailbox rejections" of the sort that Snoopy the budding author suffered, he sold Peanuts to United Features.  It went on to become the most widely read comic strip in the world, appearing daily in nearly 2,200 newspapers.  It has inspired animated cartoons, a Broadway show, innumerable toys, and reprint books that have sold over 300 million copies.  In addition, Schulz and his syndicate, who split all profits, licensed the use of the Peanuts gang to a multitude of advertisers over the years.

Forbes, the business magazine, estimated about ten years ago that Schulz was one of the 10 wealthiest entertainers in the country, with an income in 1987-1988 of $62 million.  In 1987, he was inducted into the Cartoonist Hall of Fame, and has twice won the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award.

Until his death in early 2000, Schulz lived in Santa Rosa, California where he drew Peanuts from his home studio.

(Information on the biography above is based on writings from the book, The Encyclopedia of American Comics, edited by Ron Goulart.)


Biography from Animazing Gallery:
Charles M. Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Dena and Carl Schulz and grew up in Saint Paul.  His uncle nicknamed him "Sparky" after the horse Spark Plug in the Barney Google comic strip.  Schulz attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he skipped two half-grades.  He became a shy and isolated teenager, perhaps as a result of being the youngest in his class at Central High School.

After his mother died in February 1943, he was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Camp Campbell in Kentucky.  He was shipped to Europe two years later to fight in World War II as an infantry squad leader with the U.S. 20th Armored Division. 

After leaving the army in 1945, he took a job as an art teacher at Art Instruction Inc., from which he had taken correspondence courses before he was drafted.  Schulz's drawings were first published by Robert Ripley in his Ripley's Believe It or Not!, then in a Catholic comic book series called Topix.  His first regular cartoons, Li'l Folks, were published from 1947 to 1949 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press; he first used the name Charlie Brown for a character there, although he applied the name in four gags to three different boys and one buried in sand.  The series also had a dog that looked much like Snoopy.

In 1948, Schulz sold a cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post; seventeen single-panel cartoons by Schulz would be published there.  In 1948, Schulz tried to have Li'l Folks syndicated through the Newspaper Enterprise Association.  Schulz would have been an independent contractor for the syndicate, unheard of in the 1940s, but the deal fell through.  Li'l Folks was dropped in 1949.  The next year, Schulz approached the United Features Syndicate with his best strips from Li'l Folks, and Peanuts made its first appearance on October 2, 1950.  The strip became one of the most popular comic strips of all time.

He also had a short-lived sports-oriented comic strip called It's Only a Game (1957-1959), but abandoned it due to the demands of the successful Peanuts.  Charlie Brown, the principle character for Peanuts is Schulz's childhood alter-ego. However, he named the character after a co-worker whom he met at the Art Instructions School.  Schulz drew much inspiration for Charlie Brown, the main character in Peanuts, from his life: * Like Charlie Brown, Schulz's father was a barber and his mother a housewife. * Schulz had a dog when he was a boy.  Unlike Snoopy, it was a pointer. Eventually, it was revealed that Snoopy had a desert-dwelling brother named Spike. So was Schulz's dog. * Schulz was also shy and withdrawn. * Schulz's "Little Red-Haired Girl" was Donna Johnson, an Art Instruction Inc. accountant with whom he had a relationship.  She rejected his marriage proposal, but remained a friend for the rest of his life. *  Schulz's Patty character was modeled after his first wife.  She rarely appeared in the comic strip after their divorce.  A different Patty - Peppermint Patty - appeared much more often. * Schulz saved his Peanuts strip on June 6 every year to memorialize comrades who died at Normandy. * Schulz had a friend named Charlie Brown.  Schulz moved briefly to Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He painted a wall in that home for his daughter Meredith, featuring Patty, Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  The wall was removed in 2001 and donated to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California.  The restored artwork by Schulz is printed in the paperback edition of Chip Kidd's book Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz.

Schulz's family returned to Minneapolis and stayed until 1958.  They then moved to Sebastopol, California, where Schulz built his first studio.  It was here that Schulz was interviewed for the unmade television documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown.  Some of the footage was eventually used in a later documentary titled Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz.

Schulz's father died while visiting him in 1966, the same year his Sebastopol studio burned down.  By 1969, Schulz had moved to Santa Rosa, California, where he lived and worked for over 30 years.  Schulz was married twice.  He married Joyce Halverson in 1951 and had five children.  Their eldest son is author Monte Schulz. Schulz and Halverson divorced in 1972.  Charles married his second wife, Jean Forsyth Clyde, in 1973, and remained with her until his death. 

Schulz touched on religious themes in his work, including the classic television cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), which features the character Linus van Pelt quoting the King James Version of the Bible (Luke 2:8-14) to explain "what Christmas is all about."  In personal interviews Schulz mentioned that Linus represented his spiritual side.  Schulz, reared in the Lutheran faith, had been active in the Church of God (Anderson) as a young adult and then later taught Sunday school at a United Methodist Church.  By the late 1980s he told one of his biographers (Rheta Grimsley Johnson, 1989) that he identified with Secular Humanism.  In the Sixties, Robert L. Short interpreted certain themes and conversations in Peanuts as being consistent with parts of Christian theology, as he (Short) explained in his bestselling paperback book, The Gospel According to Peanuts.  Schulz did not endorse Short's specific interpretations and often said that "the only theology is no theology," yet Schulz gave permission to use many of his strips in the book, and his newspaper comics continued to have enough theological themes to fill many Sunday School lessons.  Schulz seemed concerned about having his strip narrowly viewed as a religious themed comic, and believed it had many more simple insights into life that went beyond a specifically defined theology.

Awards He received the National Cartoonist Society Humor Comic Strip Award in 1962 for Peanuts, their Elzie Segar Award in 1980, their Reuben Award for 1955 and 1964, and their Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.  He was also a hockey fan and was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.  On June 28, 1996, Schulz was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, right next to Walt Disney's.  A replica of this star appears outside his former Santa Rosa studio.  Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years without interruption and had appeared in over 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries.  In November 1999 Schulz had a stroke, and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer that had metastasized to his stomach.  Because of the chemotherapy and the fact he couldn't read or see clearly, he announced his retirement on December 14, 1999, at the age of 77.  This was difficult for Schulz, and he was quoted as saying "I never dreamed that this would happen to me.  I always had the feeling that I would stay with the strip until I was in my early eighties, or something like that.  But all of a sudden it's gone.  It's been taken away from me.  I did not take it away. This was taken away from me."

Schulz died in Santa Rosa of a heart attack at 9:45 p.m. on February 12, 2000.  He was interred in Pleasant Hills Cemetery in Sebastopol.  The last original strip ran on February 13, 2000, including a statement from Schulz that his family wished for the strip to end when he was no longer able to produce it.  Schulz had previously predicted that the strip would outlive him, with his reason being that comic strips are usually drawn weeks before their publication.  As part of his will, Schulz had requested that the Peanuts characters remain as authentic as possible and that no new comic strips based on them be drawn.  United Features has legal ownership of the strip, but his wishes have been honored, although reruns of the strip are still being syndicated to newspapers.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center Legacy:
 
In 2000, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors rechristened the Sonoma County - Charles M. Schulz Airport in his honor.  The airport's amusing logo features Snoopy in goggles and scarf, taking to the skies on top of his red doghouse.  The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa opened on August 17, 2002, two blocks away from his former studio and celebrates his life's work and art of cartooning.  A bronze statue of Charlie Brown and Snoopy stands in Depot Park in downtown Santa Rosa.  Forbes Magazine has rated Schulz the "highest paid deceased person" in America, with his estate continuing to garner income totaling more than $32 million since his passing.  According to the book Where Are They Buried? (as well as other sources), Charles M. Schulz's income during his lifetime totaled more than $1.1 billion, a true testament the impact Schulz had on three generations of Americans who grew up with the Peanuts gang and "good Ol' Charlie Brown".  Schulz is a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America for his service to all American youth.

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