Lee Mendelson, the longtime producer of Peanuts TV specials who wrote the lyrics for the yuletide basic “Christmas Time Is Right here,” died on Christmas Day on the age of 86.
Mendelson’s sons confirmed the A Charlie Brown Christmas producer’s dying following a protracted battle with lung most cancers to the Palo Alto Daily Post. “It wasn’t nice for us, however to have him go on Christmas actually ties into his historical past and legacy,” his sons mentioned.
Mendelson first linked up with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz after the cartoonist noticed Mendelson’s documentary about baseball legend Willie Mays in 1963. The plan initially was for Mendelson’s manufacturing firm to make a documentary concerning the Peanuts caricature, however the two as a substitute determined to create the now-classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Mendelson can also be credited with hiring Vince Guaraldi, a fellow Bay Space resident who caught Mendelson’s period with a jazz tribute to the Golden Gate Bridge, to do music for the tv particular. The consequence was one of the vital beloved Christmas albums; Rolling Stone listed Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas at Number Four on our 25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time list.
Guaraldi — who recorded the particular’s soundtrack in only one three-hour studio session, the trio’s drummer Jerry Granelli informed Rolling Stone — initially composed “Christmas Time Is Right here” as an instrumental earlier than Mendelson added lyrics to the piece.
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“Guaraldi had written a really stunning melody for the opening skating scene, however about two weeks earlier than it was about to run on the air, I assumed, ‘Possibly we might get a lyricist to place some phrases to this,’” Mendelson told Rolling Stone in 2015.
“I known as a number of lyricist pals of mine, and everybody was busy. So I sat down at my kitchen desk and I wrote out a number of phrases, and we rushed it to the choir that Vince Guaraldi had been working with in San Francisco. And he recorded it, and we acquired it into the present a few week earlier than it went on the air.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas would go on to win an Emmy Award in 1966 for Excellent Kids’s Program and launch a collaboration between Mendelson Productions and the Peanuts model that has spanned over 50 years, together with It’s the Nice Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (And Don’t You Come Again) and, most lately, 2015’s It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown, a celebration of the unique particular and which additionally gained the Excellent Kids’s Program Emmy in 2016.
“The entire thing from starting to finish has been surreal,” Mendelson informed Rolling Stone. “The truth that it’s turn into such a everlasting a part of the vacation season is surreal. And each time I hear it on the radio, or I hear it in a retailer, or somebody says, ‘wah, wah, wah,’ I notice we’re very fortunate to have been related to Mr. Schulz and his characters. All of it comes again to his characters, and his philosophy, and his humor.”