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Bill Melendez

AKA José Cuauhtemoc Meléndez

Born: 15-Nov-1916
Birthplace: Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Died: 2-Sep-2008
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA [1]
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Cremated

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Cartoonist, Film Director, Film/TV Producer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Bill Melendez was a cartoonist, best known for his work on many Peanuts specials for TV. He started his career at the Disney studio in 1938, drawing for Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, and numerous other early Disney films and shorts. After leaving Disney, Melendez went to Warner Brothers and helped draw classic shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. In his early years at Warner Bros, he was credited as "J. C. Melendez", because some anonymous executive felt that his real first and last names would be too "foreign-sounding". He also worked at UPA studio, where he helped craft stylized animated shorts starring Madeline and Gerald McBoing-Boing.

He formed his own Bill Melendez Productions in 1964, and the company's first production was A Charlie Brown Christmas. It may be hard to imagine now, as Peanuts specials are holiday traditions, but when Melendez made the first Peanuts special with Charles Schulz and producer Lee Mendelson in 1965, the network hated it. Schultz, a devout Catholic, had insisted that the show's climax include a long reading of the Christmas story from the Biblical book of Luke -- highly unusual for prime time network TV. With no laugh track, voice work by real kids instead of adult actors, and a jazz score by Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas was not what the network or sponsor had expected, and CBS executives wondered whether anyone would watch. The program, of course, drew huge ratings, and it has aired every Christmas since.

Peanuts quickly became the Melendez studio's mainstay, and more than 40 Peanuts specials have been made, including A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the wonderful religious allegory It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Among the lesser and less-often aired specials, birds and cats played football in You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown!, and the kids learned about leukemia in Why, Charlie Brown, Why?

Schulz, who died in 2000, reportedly requested that no further specials be made after his passing. Melendez, however, continued churning out Peanuts specials, claiming to take his inspiration from old Peanuts strips, although few reviewers would describe his later work as "inspired". His post-Schulz specials include such mediocrities as Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown and I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown.

Melendez provided the voice for Snoopy and Woodstock, and his studio has also made occasional "Cathy", "Babar the Elephant", and "Garfield" specials, and a few feature length theatrical "Peanuts" movies. Melendez shared an Oscar for the music in the 1969 film A Boy Called Charlie Brown. He was Emmy-nominated 18 times, and won five.


[1] St. John's Hospital, Santa Monica, CA.

Wife: Helen (two sons)
Son: Steven
Son: Rodrigo Melendez (US Navy Rear Admiral)

    University: Chouinard Arts Institute
    Teacher:
University of Southern California

    Emmy 1966 for A Charlie Brown Christmas (shared)
    Emmy 1976 for You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (shared)
    Emmy 1981 for Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (shared)
    Emmy 1984 for Garfield on the Town (shared)
    Emmy 1987 for Cathy (shared)
    Disney Cartoonist
    Warner Brothers Cartoonist

    FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
    You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown! (18-Jan-1994)
    Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1-Jan-1986)
    It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (16-Apr-1984)
    What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (30-May-1983)
    It's an Adventure, Charlie Brown (16-May-1983)
    A Charlie Brown Celebration (24-May-1982)
    Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!) (30-May-1980)
    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1-Apr-1979)
    What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown! (23-Feb-1978)
    Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (24-Aug-1977)
    A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (20-Nov-1973)
    There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (11-Mar-1973)
    You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (29-Oct-1972)
    Snoopy Come Home (9-Aug-1972)
    Play It Again, Charlie Brown (28-Mar-1971)
    A Boy Named Charlie Brown (4-Dec-1969)
    It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (27-Sep-1969)
    He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (14-Feb-1968)
    You're In Love, Charlie Brown (12-Jun-1967)
    It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (26-Oct-1966)
    Charlie Brown's All Stars! (8-Jun-1966)
    A Charlie Brown Christmas (9-Dec-1965)

    FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
    You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown! (18-Jan-1994) [VOICE]
    It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown! (1992) [VOICE]
    Snoopy's Reunion (1-May-1991) [VOICE]
    Why, Charlie Brown, Why? (16-Mar-1990) [VOICE]
    It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (16-Apr-1984) [VOICE]
    What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (30-May-1983)
    Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? (23-Feb-1983) [VOICE]
    A Charlie Brown Celebration (24-May-1982) [VOICE]
    Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown (30-Oct-1981) [VOICE]
    It's Magic, Charlie Brown (28-Apr-1981) [VOICE]
    Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (24-Oct-1980) [VOICE]
    Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!) (30-May-1980) [VOICE]
    You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (19-Mar-1979) [VOICE]
    What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown! (23-Feb-1978) [VOICE]
    Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (24-Aug-1977) [VOICE]
    Snoopy Come Home (9-Aug-1972) [VOICE]
    A Boy Named Charlie Brown (4-Dec-1969) [VOICE]
    He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (14-Feb-1968) [VOICE]



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