The first PEANUTS comic strip appeared 60 years ago, but the gang stays forever young and always in our hearts thanks to Jeannie Schulz, widow of PEANUTS creator Charles “Sparky” Schulz.
Jeannie Schulz is one busy grand. Besides a full schedule with her civic service endeavors and philanthropy, she oversees all PEANUTS activities. In 2002, as founding board president, she and her fellow board members opened the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.
Just like Snoopy, Jeannie has the soul of a flying ace (she’s a licensed pilot), and she also loves flying trapeze, scuba, golf and tennis. She has produced two award-winning documentaries on Canine Companions for Independence: What a Difference a Dog Makes and The Heart of a Hero.
She and Sparky have 20 grandchildren between them. Says Jeannie, “I think parenting and grandparenting are an extension of your curiosity and your learning and all the vital things that keep you alive and keep you young…. Neither one of my two children was interested in flying, but I have two grandchildren who are flying. My mother was a pilot, my two brothers were pilots, so to have your grandchildren take up flying is really fun. It’s great to see them taking up things that I love and I can share with them – the particular skills, concentration, and dedication that it takes.
“I loved horses when I was young…. Getting on the horse was just a wonderful sense of freedom…. Again, my children were not interested in horses at all, but I have two granddaughters…who have taken up riding the last eight years or so…. I can understand what it is they’re doing, understand the bond with the horse. And again…I’m learning something from their experiences. I think that’s what parenting and grandparenting should be about.”
See Jeannie fly: Enjoy Jeannie’s recent colorful photo diary: launching the Peanuts 60th anniversary book in Beijing in April, flying trapeze in May, Beaglefest X in July, Comic-Con in August (where she received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award), and more!
Sparky gets framed: On October 1, a special photograph of Charles Schulz by famed photographer Yousuf Karsh will be unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Says Jeannie, “It’s a very well-deserved honor…. It’s easy to take him [Sparky] for granted, and I think that’s probably the way an artist wishes to be… just be in the background and let the art stand for itself.”
The PEANUTS mystique. We especially enjoyed Washingtonpost.com‘s interview with Jeannie from Nov. 22, 2002; it shows a photo of her with Sparky and is full of insight about his creative process.
My Sweet Babboo. “Sparky’s known for not taking suggestions about the comic strip,” says Jeannie. “But Sparky would take things from you…that fit his kind of humor in the strip. I would call Sparky ‘My Sweet Babboo.’ So he found a way to put ‘Sweet Babboo’ in, with Sally tormenting Linus.”
Comic Strip No. 1, October 2, 1950: Good ol’ Charlie Brown’s first appearance (he walks happily down the sidewalk, oblivious to how a neighbor kid really thinks).
Countdown to the Great Pumpkin
You could win an iPad and maybe $25,000! Beginning September 7 and continuing through October 31, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and MySpace users can visit www.greatpumpkincountdown.com and register to participate in the “Countdown to the Great Pumpkin” game. Players will earn points by completing the “Daily To-Do”- a different PEANUTS-themed task each day. The player with the most points will win a customized Apple iPad and a chance to win an additional $25,000 (the rest of us will be moaning, “I got a rock….”).