One of the greatest television specials of all time, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! Let’s take a moment to recognize this essential piece of our childhoods and to pay homage to the man behind it all, Charles M. Schulz.
The now-yearly tradition began on October 27, 1966, when CBS debuted the half-hour animated special — the third such Peanuts show — as part of its Thursday evening lineup. Here are a few newspaper ads from that day.
Now as far as I can tell, the first reference to the Great Pumpkin appeared in the Peanuts comic strip almost exactly 7 years before the show, in October 1959. Here is that strip: