More than five decades after the first Peanuts special hit TV screens, fans are mourning the tragic death of Peter Robbins, who killed himself, 57 years after voicing the titular character of Charlie Brown.
The actor’s family confirmed on Tuesday night that the former actor died by suicide last week at the age of 65.
Peter began his career at seven years old and voiced the beloved Peanuts character in six different specials, a TV documentary, and one movie, including the holiday classics A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s A Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
The former child star, who suffered from bipolar disorder, became troubled later in life; in 2015, he was sentenced to five years in prison for making criminal threats against several people.
More than five decades after the first Peanuts special hit TV screens, fans are mourning the loss off Peter Robbins, who was the original voice of Charlie Brown and passed away last week
He was released in 2019 and managed to turn his life around – speaking out about his mental health issues and receiving professional treatment for addictions to drugs, alcohol, and sex.
His family is now asking for privacy and said they will hold a memorial service for him at a future date.
Peanuts, which was first created by Charles M. Schulz, began as a comic strip in 1950.
It captured the nation and people quickly fell for the ‘loveable loser’ Charlie Brown, as well as his pals Lucy and Linus Van Pelt, Sally Brown, Violet, and of course, his dog Snoopy.
The comic strip became so popular – earning 355 million readers by 1960 – that it inspired a TV special called A Charlie Brown Christmas, which came out in 1965.
It was estimated that more than 15 million people watched the special on the day that it premiered – landing it at the number two spot at the time (right behind Bonanza).
Peanuts, which was first created by Charles M. Schulz, began as a comic strip in 1950. It became so popular that it inspired a TV special called A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965
It’s been 57 years since the first Peanuts TV special aired and the cast has certainly come a long way since then
Since then, many more TV specials based on the characters have come out, as well as multiple full-length feature films.
Charlie and Snoopy even became the face of the Apollo 10 space mission in 1969. Plus, they were ranked eighth on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time.
Now, the characters are recognized all over the world – with their faces still appearing on lunch boxes, posters, kids clothing, and more.
It’s been 57 years since the first Peanuts TV special aired and the cast has certainly come a long way since then. Here’s what the stars are doing now…
Charlie Brown, played by Peter Robbins
Peter (pictured left as a child) made his acting debut in the 1963 movie A Ticklish Affair. He then made appearances in various shows before landing the role as Charlie (pictured right)
He played Charlie from 1963 to 1969, but was eventually replaced at age 14 when he was considered too old. He is pictured with his fellow Charlie Brown costars in the 1960s
After that, Peter continued to act in various movies and TV shows until 1972. He then opted for a more normal life, pursuing a career in real estate and hosting his own radio show
Peter suffered from bipolar disorder. He was arrested in 2013 (pictured) and sentenced to five years in prison for making threats against several people
He was released in 2019 and managed to turn his life around – receiving professional treatment for addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex. He is pictured at his trial in 2015
The actor’s family confirmed on Tuesday night that he died by suicide last week at age 65. He is pictured in 2008
Peter made his acting debut in the 1963 movie A Ticklish Affair. He then made appearances in various shows like The Donna Reed Show (a sitcom starring Donna Reed that aired for eight seasons from 1958-1966), The Munsters (a Golden Globe nominated series about a family of benign monsters), The Joey Bishop Show (a sitcom starring entertainer Joey Bishop), and more.
Charlie Brown voice actors
- Peter Robbins (1963–1969)
- Chris Inglis (1971)
- Chad Webber (1972–1973)
- Todd Barbee (1973–1974)
- Duncan Watson (1975–1977)
- Dylan Beach (1976)
- Arrin Skelley (1977–1980)
- Liam Martin (1978)
- Michael Mandy (1980–1982)
- Grant Wehr (1981)
- Brad Kesten (1983–1985)
- Michael Catalano (1983)
- Brett Johnson (1984–1986
- Chad Allen (1986)
- Sean Colling (1988)
- Erin Chase (1988–1989)
- Jason Riffle (1988)
- Kaleb Henley (1990)
- Phillip Shafran (1991)
- Justin Shenkarow (1992)
- Jamie E. Smith (1992)
- Jimmy Guardino (1993)
- Steven Hartman (1995–1997)
- Quinn Beswick (2000)
- Wesley Singerman (2002–2003)
- Adam Taylor Gordon (2003)
- Spencer Robert Scott (2006)
- Alex Ferris (2008–2010)
- Trenton Rogers (2011)
- Noah Schnapp (2015)
- Aiden Lewandowski (2016)
- Gaston Scardovi-Mounier (2018–2019)
- Ethan Pugiotto (2019–2020)
- Tyler James Nathan (2021)
- Etienne Kellici (2021)
He was propelled into the spotlight after landing the role as Charlie, whom he considered to be his childhood hero.
Charlie – who was most known for managing his local baseball team – is described as ‘gentle, insecure, and lovable.’ The character often failed at various tasks due to his comical bad luck, but he never got discouraged – making him very relatable to the audience.
Peter voiced the character from 1963 to 1969, but was eventually replaced at age 14 when he was considered too old.
After that, Peter continued to act – most famously starring as Alexander Bumstead in the show Blondie.
Blondie was a 1968 sitcom that also starred Patricia Harty and Will Hutchins.
He also acted in Moment to Moment, And Now Miguel, Good Times, The Boatniks, and more.
However, his last role was in 1972, when he guest starred in the show My Three Sons.
He then opted for a more normal life, pursuing a career in real estate and hosting his own radio show.
He was arrested in 2013 and later pleaded guilty for sending the media threatening letters offering money to kill San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore and sent threatening letter to a property manager of the mobile home park where he lived.
He reportedly sent drawings and letters to the property manager and threatened other residents of the site.
He was originally ordered to probation while he attended an in-house drug therapy program, but was later taken to prison after violating his probation.
He was then transferred to a state mental hospital in Atascadero, California, and was released in 2019 into a North County sober living home.
He was ordered not to drink or take drugs, and had to take anger management classes.
After that, he began publicly speaking out about his mental health issues and reminding others to take bipolar disorder ‘seriously.’
‘I would recommend to anybody that has bipolar disorder to take it seriously because your life can turn around in the span of a month like it did to me,’ he said at the time.
‘I came out of prison and I’m a better person for it. I’m much more humble and grateful and thankful that I lived through the experience.’
He passed away from suicide on January 25, 2022.
Snoopy, played by Bill Melendez
Besides voicing the iconic character Snoopy, Bill Melendez (pictured in 2000) worked with Peanuts creator Charles on the animation for every TV special and movie in the franchise
Bill (pictured left in 2007) previously worked with Disney on classic movies like Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi, as well as the Looney Tunes for Warner Bros. before voicing Snoopy (right)
He passed away on September 2, 2008, at age 91, but no cause of death was released to the public. He is pictured left during production of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Straight out of college, Bill Melendez was hired by Disney in 1935 as a character animator, where he worked on classic movies like Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi.
In 1941 he began working for Warner Bros. Cartoons, where he served as the animator for the Looney Tunes, as well as other cartoons for the network.
In 1963, he founded his own production company, called Bill Melendez Productions, out of the basement of his home – which is still active today and is now run by his son Steven.
Besides voicing the iconic character Snoopy – who is Charlie’s pet dog and sidekick – Bill worked with Peanuts creator Charles on the animation for every single TV special and movie in the franchise.
Although Snoopy didn’t speak – his thoughts were portrayed in thought bubbles above his head – Bill provided the noises for the animal, who often made nonverbal sounds and occasionally uttered a ‘Woof.’
He married Helen Melendez in 1940, and together, they welcomed two kids together – Steven, and another boy named Rodrigo.
Unfortunately, he passed away on September 2, 2008, at age 91, but no cause of death was released to the public.
Lucy Van Pelt, played by Tracy Stratford
Tracy Statford’s first role was in the 1959 movie The Miracle of the Hills. She also appeared in a few episodes of The Twilight Zone (left), before landing the part of Lucy (right) in the cartoon
More of her credits include Bachelor in Paradise, The Second Time Around, The New Loretta Young Show, The Evil of Frankenstein, and more. She is pictured in The Twilight Zone in 1962
Tracy Statford’s first role was in 1959, in the movie The Miracle of the Hills. She also starred in Bachelor in Paradise, The Second Time Around, The New Loretta Young Show, a few episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Evil of Frankenstein, Zebra in the Kitchen, and more – before landing the part of Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The Twilight Zone was American horror anthology television series. It first premiered in 1959 and became one of the most well-known shows of its time – running for five seasons until 1964. Tracy appeared in two episodes of the show.
Lucy, who was the older sister of Linus and had a crush on Charlie, was the show’s antagonist. The bully was described as ‘stubborn, crabby, vain, loud, temperamental, and even violent.’
After her time in Charlie Brown, she acted in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and made a few guest appearances here and there, but stopped acting altogether in 1969.
She married a man named William A. Shaw in 1979, and now, they live a normal life together in Washington.
She works as a high school librarian and stays out of the spotlight, but told NobleMania in 2014 that her students will sometimes ‘randomly’ find out she was a child star and ask her if it’s true.
Tracy, who is married with two daughters, also coaches drama and has directed many of the plays at her school.
After starring in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Tracy made a few guest TV appearances here and there, but stopped acting altogether in 1969. She is pictured in her headshot as a child
Tracy (pictured in 2014) married a man named William A. Shaw in 1979, and they live a normal life together in Washington. She works as a high school librarian and stays out of the spotlight
‘It was a unique experience growing up – it had its own set of challenges, but I always enjoyed the actual work,’ she recalled, of starring in Charlie Brown.
‘I learned so much from all the people I worked with over the years. I learned much about the craft of acting itself, about the work, about directing.
‘But my friends kept me (or at least tried!) to keep me grounded. I had horses, did ballet, sports at school, and had lots of other things I did and was involved in at school and with friends.
‘And there were a lot of kids in Southern California who either acted or wanted to act.
‘Some let it go to their heads, some didn’t; I tried to be one who didn’t – and in large part that was due to my friends.
‘Hollywood is a very easy place to become full of yourself or “ungrounded” so I am so grateful to my friends for helping me stay real.’
Linus Van Pelt, played by Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea’s (pictured left in the 1971 movie A Little Game) first role was Linus (pictured right) in A Charlie Brown Christmas, and after that, his career took off
Chris (pictured in A Little Game) continued to play Linus for four more Peanuts specials, and then went on to star in Shane, Firecreek, Smith!, Angel in my Pocket, The Love God?, and more
On August 19, 2010, the actor (pictured with his family before his death) died of natural causes at age of 52. He is survived by his wife, Sara Straton, and two daughters, Nicea and Teal
Christopher Shea’s first role was A Charlie Brown Christmas, and after that, his career took off right away.
He played Linus – Lucy’s little brother and Charlie’s best friend, who always meant well. The character famously brought his baby blanket with him everywhere.
Besides starring in four more Peanuts specials, Christopher also acted in Shane (an American Western television series which aired on ABC in 1966), Firecreek (another Western), Smith! (which also starred Glenn Ford), and Angel in my Pocket (a 1969 American comedy film directed by Alan Rafkin and starring Andy Griffith).
He also starred in The Love God?, The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, The Boy Who Stole the Elephant, The Odd Couple, A Little Game, and more.
On August 19, 2010, the actor died of natural causes at age of 52. He is survived by his wife, Sara Straton, and two daughters, Nicea and Teal Straton-Shea.
Sally Brown, played by Cathy Steinberg
Cathy Steinberg (pictured left as a child) was only four when she landed the role as Sally (pictured right), and since she didn’t know how to read, her lines had to be fed to her
Her only acting credits were four Charlie Brown specials – A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown’s All Stars!, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and You’re in Love, Charlie Brown
Now, she lives in Miami Beach, Florida, and owns a business called Via Motif, which designs and manufactures interior design accessories for luxury hotels. She is pictured in 2010
Cathy Steinberg’s only acting credits were four Charlie Brown specials – A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown’s All Stars!, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and You’re in Love, Charlie Brown.
Cathy was only four when she first landed the role as Sally, who is Charlie’s younger sister, and since she didn’t know how to read, her lines had to be fed to her one word at a time.
She told NobleMania in 2014 that she was cast in the special because the producer was a neighbor and family friend.
‘I believe that they went to L.A. and cast most of the voices but they had not found a Sally. They came by to test my voice and it worked for them. I’m not really sure why,’ she said.
Now, she lives in Miami Beach, Florida, and owns a business called Via Motif, which designs and manufactures interior design accessories for luxury hotels.
When asked if she’s ever return to the spotlight, she said: ‘I am not interested. I’m really busy.’
She added: ‘It was a positive childhood memory. I’m glad that I had the experience. It really has not had an impact on me other than that.’
Violet, played by Sally Dryer
Sally Dryer’s (pictured with her Charlie Brown costars in 1966) first role was Violet in A Charlie Brown Christmas. She then went on to portray Lucy in four more, as well as Patty in one
Now, Sally (pictured left in 2021) is openly lesbian and lives with her partner. She often volunteers for the Humane Society and owns her own picture frame business
Like Cathy, Sally Dryer’s first role was Violet – who was best friends with Lucy and Patty, and was described as ‘a bit of a snob’ – in A Charlie Brown Christmas. She then went on to portray Lucy in four more Peanuts specials.
She also voiced Shirley, Clara, and Sophie in It was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, and Patty in A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
She told Noblemania in 2014 that she was hired because her older sister worked for the producer.
She also described the creator Charles as ‘tremendous’ and ‘kind.’
‘Tremendous. Kind, dear, quiet man,’ she gushed. ‘He left a huge impression on me.
‘We went up to his property when they were working on a book or something to take photos with him, and he had invited me to come to his office, if you will, and watch him draw for a few minutes.
‘I got to stand next to the drawing table in his office. It’s a vague memory but in his museum they have his office set up like it was, and when I saw it, it was the same.’
Now, Sally is openly lesbian and lives with her partner. She often volunteers for the Humane Society and owns her own picture frame business in Burlingame, California.
Schroeder, played by Chris Doran
Chris Doran’s only acting credit was Schroeder (pictured) in A Charlie Brown Christmas. He hasn’t starred in anything else since then and doesn’t use social media
Chris Doran’s only acting credit was Schroeder in A Charlie Brown Christmas. He hasn’t starred in anything else since then and doesn’t use social media, so it’s unclear what he’s been up to since then.
His character, Schroeder, was known for his impressive piano skills, as well as his love of classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in particular.
He played catcher on Charlie’s baseball team and was one of Charlie’s closest friends. In the franchise, it was also well known that Lucy had a crush on him.
Karen Mendelson didn’t act in much after A Charlie Brown Christmas. She ended up starring in another Peanuts special but then stepped out of the spotlight. Her character, Patty, is pictured
Patty, played by Karen Mendelson
Just like Chris, Karen Mendelson didn’t act in much after A Charlie Brown Christmas. She ended up playing Violet in Charlie Brown’s All Stars! but then, she stepped out of the spotlight.
Karen’s character, Patty, was a major part of the original series – being one of Violet’s best friends.
But unfortunately, the character was eventually eliminated from the franchise.
She has made a few appearances here and there over the years, but pretty much disappeared from the story by the 1970s.