September 03, 2008

Peanuts Animator Bill Melendez Passes

91-year-old voiced "Snoopy"

Bill Melendez

Bill Melendez, animator for such classic Peanuts television specials as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, died Tuesday at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California.

The eight-time Emmy winner was 91.

Melendez is survived by his wife of 68 years, Helen; his two sons, Steven and Rodrigo; 6 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Donations may be made in Bill Melendez's name to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Bill Melendez talks with

Archive of American Television

In June 2001, the Archive of American Television interviewed esteemed animator Bill Melendez.

He spoke of his early years with Walt Disney Studios, working on several key animation features of the 1940s. Later, the Mexican native landed at Warner Bros., where he animated cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, among other popular characters.

After leaving Warner Bros. in 1948, Melendez served several years as a director and producer for well over 1,000 commercials and more film projects for United Productions of America, Playhouse Pictures and more. Via a UPA commerical project for the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, whose client expressed interest in Peanuts characters, Melendez met creator Charles M. Schultz.

Melendez described his early collaboration with comic strip artist Charles M. Schulz on commercials starring the Peanuts characters, illustrating how this relationship developed into a career-long partnership for more than 50 Peanuts television specials.

He also talked with the Archive about other projects he has produced through his production company, such as animated feature The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and animated specials featuring comic strip characters Garfield and Cathy.

The complete interview is available for viewing at the AAT office, located on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences plaza in North Hollywood. You will be available for viewing online soon. Contact the Television Archive at (818) 754-2800 for more information.

To learn more about the life and works of Melendez and more American Archive of Television personalities online, please visit the Archive of American Television Update blog.

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