‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” turns 50

Cartoonist Charles Schulz, shown in a 1978 file photo, created the iconic Peanuts comic strip. The original strip ran in American newspapers from October 1950 to February 13, 2000, one day after Schulz's death. It remains widely syndicated today. (AP file)
Cartoonist Charles Schulz, shown in a 1978 file photo, created the iconic Peanuts comic strip. The original strip ran in American newspapers from October 1950 to February 13, 2000, one day after Schulz's death. It remains widely syndicated today. (AP file)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – Maybe this is the year the Great Pumpkin visits Linus in the pumpkin patch. 50th time is the charm, right?

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” turns 50 when it airs Wednesday night.

The holiday special is one of the noted classics spun from Charles Schulz’s iconic comic strip. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” debuted Oct. 27, 1966, on CBS, created to capitalize on the success of 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” according to TV Insider.

The Peanuts holiday specials have become a staple of Americana, watched by children in the 1960s, again as they became parents, and now with their grandchildren. Altogether, Schulz, along with executive producer Lee Mendelson and director Bill Melendez, completed more than 50 television specials and four movies over four decades, according to SFGATE.

Although the Christmas special is arguably more widely recognized, Mendelson and the creators considered “It’s The Great Pumpkin” to be a bigger success. According to the FW, nearly half of all TV viewing audiences tuned into “It’s The Great Pumpkin” when it debuted in 1966.

“It blew our minds,” Mendelson said in an interview with TV Insider.

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” airs Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. Central on WBAY-TV.