September 30, 2010 / 8:02 PM / in 7 years

Good grief! Peanuts comic strip turns 60

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Peanuts, the iconic comic strip that charmed hundreds of millions of people worldwide with the antics of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus, is celebrating its 60th anniversary on Saturday.

The original strip, drawn by Charles M. Schulz, first ran on October 2,1950 in seven newspapers and continued until February 13, 2000, the day after Schulz’s death at the age of 77.

It has appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers in 72 countries and 21 languages and still continues in reruns.

Its lovable characters, Linus with his trademark security blanket, bossy Lucy at her lemonade stand, anxiety-prone Charlie Brown and Snoopy with his typewriter and fantasies of being the Red Baron, appealed to children and adults of all ages and appeared in books, plays, TV shows and in films.

Schulz’s daughter, Jill, attributes the phenomenal success of Peanuts to its universal themes.

“The subject matter and characters hit on issues that people from every single generation can relate to, such as winning and losing. No matter how advanced we become as a society, everybody can identify with them,” she explained.

The characters became like family to her.

“They were like siblings, but couldn’t argue back.”

Jeannie Schulz believes the success of her husband’s comic strip came from its ability to convey common human emotions simply.

“People love the simplicity and the clarity of the drawings and the language. We always knew the characters dealt with human emotions, fears, hopes, and insecurities,” she said.

A year-long tribute to Schulz and the Peanuts characters is planned in the United States and around the globe to mark the anniversary.

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC will induct a photographic portrait of Schulz taken by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh on Friday.

The following day the gallery has planned an entire day of Peanuts-related activities, including an appearance by Snoopy himself.

Major League baseball games also commemorated the anniversary with activities.

In Hong Kong, a jewelry designer created a 5.5 inch Snoopy crafted of diamonds and rubies, weighing 207 carats. The Guinness Book of World Records has verified that the Snoopy valued at over $317,000-as the most expensive piece of Peanuts memorabilia in existence.

In June, the German airline Condor unveiled a new Peanuts-themed paint scheme on the exteriors of 34 aircraft in its fleet. Inside, Peanuts characters are featured as in-flight entertainment and their likenesses are depicted on pillows, napkins and coloring books distributed to young passengers.

Web-based Peanuts fans can participate in a social media game (greatpumpkincountdown.com) and earn points by completing daily Peanuts related tasks, such as sharing a memorable quote with Facebook friends or Twitter followers or putting up a character as a profile picture. The winner will be awarded a Peanuts-themed iPad and $25,000 in cash from Peanuts Worldwide LLC.

Jeannie Schulz said her husband would have been pleased that his characters still have such a fervent following.

“He always wanted to make people happy. He would like that people are still enjoying it. Making people happy was the measure of success for him”

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