'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving': What's it like to be Charlie Brown and Lucy? Ask the two who gave them a voice in the TV special

ByJuan Carlos Guerrero WABC logo
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Meet the voices behind Charlie Brown and Lucy in the TV specials
Robin Kohn and Todd Barbee recall recording the voices of Lucy and Charlie Brown for the 1973 television special "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving".

SAN FRANCISCO -- Todd Barbee remembers the moment well. He was about 11 years old when he was selected to voice Charlie Brown in 1973's television special "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."

Barbee was the fourth child to voice Charlie Brown for the TV shows, but there was a part that he could not get quite right.

"One of the classic scenes is Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown," he said. "That's a really memorable moment in the studio because it took 26 takes when Charlie Brown screams 'aaugh!' They finally said, 'We will get somebody else to do the augh.' That is not my scream in that one moment."

The rest of Charlie Brown is all him. Barbee gave life to the Peanuts character in three television specials, including "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" and "It's a mystery, Charlie Brown."

VIDEO: Peanuts creator Craig Schulz talks about Charlie Brown classic

Craig Schulz sat down with ABC7 News for an interview on "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" saying the classic character Lucy was based on a real person - his sister.

Amazingly, Barbee did not record the football scene with Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy van Pelt in the Thanksgiving special.

"We didn't record together in the studio," remembers Kohn, a Bay Area real estate broker who was about 10 years old at the time. "We would see kids come in and out of the studio. We would meet the other kids in the waiting room."

The children were all recorded separately. Famed animator Bill Melendez would often sit in the studio with them and tell them how he wanted them to read the lines.

"I was really good at imitating voices," said Kohn. "I would listen how he wanted to say. But Bill Melendez had a slight accent. I would try to repeat how he said it but I kept saying it wrong. I finally had to do it a different way."

Kohn played Lucy in four television specials until her voice started to change. She was replaced by her younger sister Melanie.

The children chosen to play the Peanuts characters were all from the Bay Area because creator Charles Schultz lived in Northern California and he wanted to be close to the production.

Barbee and Kohn eventually did get to act together.

"Several years later we're at Redwood High School in Corte Madera and I say, 'Oh my god, there is Lucy!'" said Barbee.

Barbee and Kohn were the same age and were in class together in high school. They even both got involved in the drama department.

The two meet occasionally while promoting the television specials.

"I had no idea when I was 10 that the shows would still be popular today," recalls Kohn. "It is fun to remember that."

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" airs Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT | 7 p.m. CT on ABC.