Bay Area man who gave voice to Charlie Brown remembers Thanksgiving classic 50 years later

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, November 24, 2023
Bay Area man who gave voice to Charlie Brown remembers holiday classic
ABC7 sat down with the Marin County man who gave voice to Charlie Brown in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" 50 years ago.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. (KGO) -- A holiday TV favorite is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is a must-see for many families this time of year, but did you know, the animated special has roots in the Bay Area?

ABC7 News Reporter Cornell Barnard sat down with the Marin County man who gave voice to Charlie Brown.

It's been a half-century since Lucy first taunted Charlie Brown with the football on Thanksgiving -- but like most kids, Charlie grew up.

"I'm Todd Barbee and I voiced Charlie Brown on the Thanksgiving special."

Todd Barbee from San Anselmo is remembering "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," which made its TV debut in 1973. Todd was 11 years-old when he gave voice to the iconic Peanuts character in a San Francisco recording studio, south of Market.

"Occasionally, Bill Melendez, the animator and director, would come in. I have fond memories of him coaching us and how he wanted his voice to come out," said Barbee.

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Barbee pulled out his old script, proving he's still got it.

"I can't believe it, she must think I'm the most stupid person alive," said Barbee, reading along with the cartoon's animation.

The football gag is a classic.

"Hold it? You'll pull it away and I'll land flat on my back and kill myself," said Barbee as Charlie Brown.

"It's just such a classic scene you can relate to, you put your trust in somebody and they take it away," said Barbee.

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Barbee and others who gave voice to the Thanksgiving Peanuts characters recently attended a 50th anniversary party at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. Its curator shared his favorite scene.

"Charlie Brown doesn't know how to cook, so Snoopy and Woodstock make what they know, toast, pretzels and jelly beans," said Benjamin L. Clark.

"It's really mind blowing, it's been 50 years," Barbee added.

Today, Barbee is a site planner who designed the new home for the SkyStar Wheel at Fisherman's Wharf. But he'll always look back on his days bringing Charlie Brown to life.

"I think that's the reason it's held up for 50 years, Charles Schulz had his finger on the pulse of American culture, and it's never gone away," said Barbee.

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