Timeline of Charles Schulz’s life

The evolution of Charles ‘Sparky’ Schulz and his work on his 100th birthday.|


On Nov. 26, Charles Monroe Schulz is born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Shortly after his birth, an uncle of his gives him the nickname “Sparky,” inspired by the horse in a cartoon of the time, “Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.” The nickname stuck with Schulz for life.


The inspiration behind the “Peanuts” character Snoopy came to Schulz when he was 12 years old. His family was given a black-and-white dog named Spike who Snoopy is based upon. He later used Spike as the name for another “Peanuts” character, Snoopy’s desert-dwelling brother beagle.


At 15 years old, Schulz was already working on his cartoons. Robert Ripley’s newspaper comic “Believe it or Not” included one of Schulz’s drawings of a dog similar to Spike, marking his first published piece.


As a senior at Central High School in St. Paul, Schulz further develops his artistic studies with a correspondence cartoon course with the Federal School of Applied Cartooning, now known as Art Instruction Schools, according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum.


Two significant events took place within a short amount of time of each other: The death of Schulz’s mother, Dena, from cervical cancer and the beginning of his army career at Camp Campbell in Kentucky. Both of this events marked a challenging and “haunting” time of Schulz’s life, according to the Schulz Museum.


On Oct. 2, “Peanuts” debuts in seven different newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Minneapolis Star/Tribune, Allentown Call-Chronicle, Bethlehem Globe-Times, Denver Post, and Seattle Times.


“Peanuts” turns 5, and Schulz wins his first Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society.


“Peanuts” products enter the market for the first time, featuring various Charlie Brown characters as figurines.

This year also marks the beginning of Schulz’s time in Sonoma County, as he moved to Sebastopol from the Twin Cities..


Schulz earns another award from the National Cartoonists Society, as “Peanuts” is named the Best Humorist Strip of the Year.


Marking another accolade in Schulz’s career, he becomes the first cartoonist to be awarded a second Reuben Award by the National Cartoonists Society.


“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Schulz’s first animated TV feature, won a Peabody and Emmy awards.


On March 7, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” becomes the most-produced musical in America as it opens off Broadway.


“Peanuts” characters become a symbol in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 28, in New York City. Every year since then, the parade has included a blowup figure of either Charlie Brown or Snoopy.


Further embedding his beloved footprint on Sonoma County, Schulz opens the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa.

“A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” the animated film, receives nomination for Academy Award Best Original Score.


“Peanuts” holds popularity in San Diego, so much so that the city declares June 17 as “Peanuts Day.” Schulz also receives a key to the city from the San Diego Mayor at the time, Frank Curran.


Schulz marries his wife Jean, better known as Jeannie, in Santa Rosa.


During the summer, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena holds its first annual Snoopy’s Senior Hockey tournament including players from all around the world. Schulz took to the ice to play. .


At 58-years-old, Schulz undergoes quadruple heart bypass surgery at the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.


Soon after his surgery, Schulz takes interest in prioritizing his health and takes up jogging. He took part in the Young at Heart race, a run co-sponsored by the Redwood Empire Ice Arena and the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Schulz shared his “Peanuts” artwork for the race’s shirt design, according to the Schulz Museum.


“Peanuts” sets a new Guinness world record as it signs its 2,000th newspaper contract with United Feature Syndicate.


Schulz holds the key to yet another city! The city of Santa Rosa makes Charles Schulz a Key to the City holder for public service.


The Museum of Cartoon Art inducts Schulz into its Hall of Fame and awards him the Golden Brick Award. He also earns the award for the “Distinguished Citizen” from Boy Scouts of America.


“Snoopy in Fashion” is created by Connie Boucher of Determined Productions. The show features the various fashion outfits created for Snoopy by designers, and later appears in the Louvre of France.


On Jan. 9, the “Peanuts” enter space when a Snoopy doll suited in a NASA uniform hitches a ride on the Columbia shuttle.


On June 28, Charles Schulz earns a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.


Schulz announces his retirement on Dec. 14, due to cancer spreading from his colon to his stomach.


On Feb. 12, Schulz died in his sleep in his Santa Rosa home.

Schulz’s final original Sunday “Peanuts” strip appeared in newspapers around the world. Additionally, The Press Democrat was the only publication to also include his obituary in this same Sunday paper. His wife called The Press Democrat shortly before the newspaper’s deadline with the sad news. People around Sonoma County were stealing the newspaper’s special newspaper box cards and selling the final “Peanuts” edition for hundreds of dollars online.


On June 7, Charles Schulz is posthumously given the award for the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.


The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center opens its doors to the public on Aug. 15.

Sources: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, The Press Democrat archives,

You can reach intern Lonnie Hayes at lonnie.hayes@pressdemocrat.com.

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