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A Charlie Brown Christmas “LMU” Mystery

A Charlie Brown Christmas "LMU" Mystery

After years of being snipped down in length to make way for more
commercials, A Charlie Brown Christmas was restored in 2001 to its unedited
original version. This was a case of ABC making good on being a responsible
network broadcaster of this beloved holiday special.
Yet, to do this and still accommodate today’s network load of commercials for a half-hour show, it was clocking in at over 35 minutes. It no longer fit within the half-hour slot for which it had been intended since its 1965 debut.
Here’s where a clever solution came in, and also the beginnings of a perennial Christmas ‘easter egg’ that has been the stuff of Santa sightings and eggnog legend for a certain Los Angeles university.
First the clever solution: ABC contracted the Bill Melendez studio to make a sequence of short Peanuts holiday vignettes that would play for the remainder of what then became an hour-long Christmas special, comprising the unedited A Charlie Brown Christmas and the new material called Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales.

And here’s the hidden Easter Egg: virtually the last thing an audience sees during the hour special is a scene of Sally running into Charlie’s bedroom to wake him on Christmas morning. As the scene plays out, there’s only thing that we see on his wall. It’s an LMU pennant.This has appeared year-after-year since the vignettes were added in 2002, and for years this caused double-takes and disbelief for alumni of Loyola Marymount University. This year however the news was finally tweeted, zipping around social media, and many of us waited in anticipation to see the pennant’scurious appearance once again. Last Tuesday at 8:58, there IT was. How it got there is still not known. At the time of production, LMU's starting point guard was named Charles Brown and it was widely commented in L.A. sports circles that, Good Grief, Charlie Brown had become a very good basketball player. Sometimes these sorts of in-jokes are artists’ pranks (of course Charlie would root for himself, yes?) but there are some other connections.

For instance, some members of the Schulz family have attended LMU. There are also known instances of Charles Schulz himself drawing personalized cartoons for Jesuit professors on campus. And Bill Melendez studio’s animation camera, the same one that filmed A Charlie Brown Christmas, was donated to LMU’s Animation program in 2005.

Whether Bill had a hand in this is not known (he passed away in 2008).The new vignettes are only twelve years old, so many of those involved inmaking it are surely still active in animation. It’s a holiday whodunit andwe’d love to solve the mystery. If anyone knows the story behind the LMU pennant, please comment below. Let’s solve this in time for Christmas - Many thanks!

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