Voice actor Peter Robbins died last week, his family just announced. He was 65.
Robbins is best known for giving a voice to the “Peanuts” character Charlie Brown. The actor began voicing Charlie Brown in 1963 in several Peanuts cartoons including “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” His family said the cause of death was suicide.
The actor lent his vocal talents to the timeless character for the project, “It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown” when he was 13. Robbins was replaced when his voice started changing after turning 14 and entering puberty.
Robbins also appeared on hit shows including “The Munsters,” “F Troop” and “Good Times,” according to his IMDb profile. The last acting role he took on was “My Three Sons” in 1972. He went on to become a real estate agent.
Robbins’ mental health issues were no secret in the Hollywood community. The voice actor often discussed his struggles with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. He pleaded guilty to stalking and making criminal threats against his girlfriend in 2013, Insider reported.
Then in 2015, Robbins was sentenced to almost five years in prison for making criminal threats to several people, including a San Diego County sheriff.
“I would recommend to anybody that has bipolar disorder to take it seriously because your life can turn around in a span of a month, like it did to me,” Robbins told Fox 5 in 2019. “I came out of prison and I’m a better person for it. I’m much more humble and grateful and thankful that I lived through the experience.”
Over the years, “Charlie Brown” cartoons have been threatened with cancellation for various reasons. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” came under scrutiny in 2018 for their treatment of the black character Franklin, who sits by himself at the dinner table while all the other characters sit on the other side. Some Twitter users called this treatment “racist,” but others pointed out how “Peanuts” was progressive for its time.
The Daily Wire reported that Franklin was created by Charles Schulz following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. when a teacher named Harriet Glickman sent him a letter.
“When asked by the head of the cartoon’s publisher, United Feature Syndicate, if he was sure he wanted to add a black character, Glickman says Schulz replied, ‘Either you run it the way I drew it, or I quit.’”
Also, Medium journalist Jeremy Helligar pointed out how Franklin wasn’t always seated alone at the table.
“A relevant aside: During the farewell dinner about one hour and five minutes into 1972’s ‘Snoopy Come Home,’ Franklin was seated on the same side of the table as Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Frieda — in a regular chair,” he wrote in response to claims of racism.
There’s also the famous moment of Linus’s biblical speech in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” causing controversy before the show even aired. “Peanuts” creator Schulz insisted that religion should be the focal point of his piece, but producers and CBS executives worried that Linus’ speech would scare off advertisers and narrow the audience.
Even now, there are calls to edit the speech out every Christmas, but it has remained untouched.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
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