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10 Peanuts Characters You’ve Probably Forgotten

Everyone knows Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus. But do you recall these less-celebrated members of the Peanuts gang?

1. 555 95472

One of the most bizarre characters in the Peanuts universe was “555 95472,” or “5” for short. Introduced in September 1963, 5 explained that his father was so upset about people being seen as “just a number,” he renamed the entire family as a series of digits. The family's last name is taken from their ZIP Code, though when spoken, 5 insists there's an accent on the 4. The ZIP Code, by the way, is the real one for Sebastopol, California, where Charles Schulz lived at the time.

5’s sisters 3 and 4 made a few appearances in the strip before disappearing, but 5 was occasionally a background character until 1981. You've probably seen 3, 4, and 5 already and didn't even know it—all three appear in the famous dance sequence in A Charlie Brown Christmas. 3 and 4 are the twin girls in purple dresses, while 5 is the spiky-haired kid in orange.

2. Charlotte Braun

Charlotte Braun was written as a female version of Charlie Brown.

In fact, she looked just like him, except she had curly hair. She, too, was ostracized by her peers, but it was because she was loud and obnoxious, a fact she constantly pointed out during her appearances in the comic strip.

Shortly after her introduction in 1954, Schulz received a letter from Elizabeth Swain, a young fan in Pittsburgh, who told him to get rid of Braun because Swain found the character annoying and unfunny. Schulz wrote Swain a letter (which is now in the Library of Congress) saying that he would soon “discard” Braun as requested. He added a touch of dark humor by saying that Swain would “have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?” Next to his signature, he included a sketch of Charlotte Braun with an ax stuck in her head. Braun showed up in the comic one more time, but then never returned.

3. Snoopy's Fiancée (Genevieve)

After disappearing one night, Snoopy returns in the morning to say he has met the “beagle of his dreams” and he’s getting married. But on the day of the nuptials, Snoopy’s fiancée runs off with Snoopy’s brother, Spike, who was set to be the Best Beagle at the ceremony. Soon after, a heartbroken Snoopy receives a letter from Spike saying that his ex-fiancée ran off with a coyote.

Snoopy's fiancée was never seen in the comic strip. But when the storyline became the basis for the 1985 TV special, Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, she's both seen and given a name—Genevieve. A few other changes were made as well - instead of a beagle she’s a poodle, and she doesn't run off with Spike, but with a golden retriever.

4. Tapioca Pudding

When Tapioca Pudding was introduced in September 1986, she said that, with her blond hair, smile, and catchy name, her father believes they could make a million dollars by licensing her image for products like t-shirts, lunch boxes, and greeting cards. It's all she ever talked about.

Tapioca was a jab at the many cartoon characters in the 1980s created purely to be licensed for use on products. Her name, as well as other hints throughout the storyline, suggest that the real target of Schulz’s satire was probably Strawberry Shortcake, a character originally featured on a line of greeting cards. When the cards became big sellers, 32 similar food-themed cartoon friends were created and appeared on everything from toys to clothing to a Saturday morning cartoon.

5. Shut Up and Leave Me Alone

When the Peanuts gang attended summer camp in 1971, Charlie Brown introduced himself to his tentmate, a boy sitting on a cot, with his back to the reader. “Shut up and leave me alone,” he responded. Throughout this series of summer camp strips, Charlie Brown repeatedly tried to get his tentmate to come to lunch, to join him at an astronomy lesson, or to meet Peppermint Patty. But the kid never moved, and all he ever says is, “Shut up and leave me alone.”

Despite the cold shoulder, Charlie Brown writes to his tentmate after camp is over. He's surprised to get a letter back, but the single sentence reply is entirely predictable.

6. The Goose Eggs

After Charlie Brown took a bite out of his old nemesis, the Kite-Eating Tree, he received a stern letter from the Environmental Protection Agency. Convinced he’s headed to jail, Charlie Brown went on the lam. He met a group of Little Leaguers—Austin, Ruby, Leland and Milo—who asked him to coach their team, The Goose Eggs.

The kids are young and small—the catcher's mask completely covers Leland's head, Milo can't even lift the bat to swing it, and Austin asks how he's supposed to get down from the pitcher's mound—so they're underdogs to be sure. Of course their first game is against Charlie Brown's friends, who refuse to play because they're afraid they'll step on the little kids. It's here that Charlie Brown learns he can go back home, as the evidence against him was destroyed when the Kite-Eating Tree blew over in a storm.

7. Truffles

While hunting for truffles in the countryside, Snoopy and Linus found the next best thing—a young girl named Truffles, who was visiting her grandfather's farm. Linus instantly likes her, but he can’t find his way back to the farm to see her again. They talk on the phone a few times, but Truffles soon goes back home and they lose touch.

Then, in 1977, Linus went back to the farm where he met Truffles, and the two picked up where they left off. Sally was jealous and the girls start arguing. Unwilling to be part of the squabble, Linus climbed to the roof of the barn, but was too scared to come down. So Sally hired Woodstock and Snoopy—who can fly by spinning his ears like helicopter blades—to rescue her “Sweet Babboo.”

Sadly, Truffles was never seen again.

8. Emily

In February 1995, Charlie Brown met a girl named Emily who asked him to be her partner in a dance class. After they shared an “enchanted afternoon,” Charlie Brown was smitten.

But at the next class, Emily was absent. When Charlie Brown asked the instructor where Emily is, he's told there's no one by that name in the class. It turns out Charlie Brown was dancing alone and talking to himself the whole time; Emily was merely a figment of his lonely imagination.

Emily and Charlie Brown danced again in 1996 and 1999. There was never any mention of her being imaginary, and in one instance, Snoopy even joins them. But with no other characters meeting her – and Snoopy having a pretty wild imagination himself – many fans believe that Emily never actually existed.

9. Peggy Jean

Charlie Brown and his girlfriend, Peggy Jean, met on the boat docks at summer camp in 1990. Peggy Jean gave Charlie Brown his first kiss, said she loved him, and wrote letters to him after camp was over. Sadly, he never received those letters. That's because upon meeting her, he was so nervous that he introduced himself as “Brownie Charles,” a mistake he was too embarrassed to correct. So when the mailman tried to deliver Peggy Jean's letters, Sally turned them away, saying no one by that name lived at the address.

After appearing periodically for many years, the last Peggy Jean comic was on July 11, 1999, when the two met on the docks at summer camp once again. But this time, Peggy Jean told Charlie Brown she can't stay because she had to go meet her boyfriend. Devastated, Charlie Brown used a pay phone to call the one friend he could always count on—Snoopy.

10. Joe Shlabotnik

It’s fitting that Charlie Brown's favorite baseball player would be a guy whose career was anything but spectacular. After batting .004 in one season in the majors, Joe Shlabotnik was sent back down to the minor leagues, where his most notable highlight was throwing out a runner who'd fallen down between first and second base.

When Shlabotnik became the manager for the Waffletown Syrups, Charlie Brown finally got to meet his hero. While in the stands, Charlie Brown snagged a foul ball, and he wanted Shlabotnik to sign it. Unfortunately, Shlabotnik had been fired in the middle of the game.

By the way, don't bother looking for pictures of Shlabotnik. Like all adults, he's never actually seen in Peanuts.
* * * * *
What other little-known members of the Peanuts gang deserve a mention?

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15 Things You May Not Know About Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

We are not alone. Here are a few facts about Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO classic, on its 40th anniversary.

1. IT WAS INITIALLY A VERY DIFFERENT FILM.

Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.

2. IT’S NAMED AFTER LEGITIMATE UFO RESEARCH.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg partly based his idea on the research of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a civilian scientific advisor to Project Blue Book who eventually admitted that 11 percent of the study’s findings about unidentified flying objects could not be explained using science.

The title (which is never specifically explained in the movie) is actually derived from Hynek’s own alien close encounter classification system: A close encounter of the first kind is sighting of a UFO; the second kind is physical evidence to prove the existence of an alien; and the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms.

3. THERE’S A CAMEO FROM THE GODFATHER OF UFO RESEARCH.

Hynek, who also served as a technical advisor on the movie, makes an uncredited cameo in the final scene of the movie. You can spot him pretty easily—he’s the goateed man smoking a pipe and wearing a powder blue suit who pushes through the crowd of scientists to get a better look at the aliens.

4. NOBODY WANTED THE STARRING ROLE.

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Columbia Pictures

The director first offered the part of Roy Neary to actor Steve McQueen, who turned it down because he said he couldn’t cry on cue, something he saw as essential to the character. Spielberg then went to Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and James Caan who all turned him down as well before asking his friend Richard Dreyfuss, who previously worked with Spielberg on Jaws, to take the part.

5. BUT IT WASN'T THE MOST DIFFICULT ROLE TO CAST.

Spielberg approached French actors like Lino Ventura, Yves Montand, and Jean-Louis Trintignant to play Claude Lacombe—who was based on famous UFO researcher Jacques Vallée—before settling on director and sometimes-actor François Truffaut. The initially skeptical Truffaut, who was nervous about appearing in a big budget Hollywood movie, accepted the role because he wanted to compile research for a book about acting (he never did write the book).

6. MERYL STREEP COULD HAVE PLAYED ROY'S WIFE.

Many actresses—including a then-unknown Yale Drama School grad named Meryl Streep—auditioned for the part of Roy’s wife Ronnie, but he ultimately cast actress Teri Garr because he saw her in a coffee commercial and loved the way she was able to convey a wide range of emotions in a 30-second clip.

7. THEY SHOT IN A DISUSED AIR FORCE HANGAR.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg wanted to shoot in real suburban locations rather than studio backlots, but the production had trouble finding locations. The biggest question: Where could Spielberg shoot the climactic canyon sequence with the mothership?

The production looked for huge indoor enclosures that would allow for the massive scale of the scene, though they only found ones with center support dividers that spoiled the openness Spielberg wanted for the UFO runway. The only location producers found without center dividers was a 300 foot by 300 foot disused hangar that had been used for dirigibles during World War II at Brookley Air Force base in Mobile, Alabama.

8. THE TEAM BOUGHT A HOUSE FOR THE PRODUCTION—AND SOLD IT FOR A PROFIT.

The Nearys' house, which is located at 1613 Carlisle Drive East in Mobile, was actually purchased by the production for $35,000 so they could do whatever they wanted with the interiors. It was later sold for $50,000 after production wrapped, netting a $15,000 surplus that went back into the film’s budget.

9. THE MEMORABLE 5-NOTE TONES TOOK A LONG TIME TO FIGURE OUT

Composer John Williams worked with Spielberg to come up with the movie’s distinct five-note musical method of communication between humans and aliens—which Spielberg partly based on the Solfège system of musical education—a year before shooting began.

Williams initially wanted a seven-note sequence, but it was too long for the simple musical “greeting” Spielberg wanted. The composer enlisted a mathematician to calculate the number of five-note combinations they could potentially make from a 12-note scale. When that number proved to be somewhere upwards of 134,000 combinations, Williams created 100 distinct versions, and they simply whittled the combinations down one by one until they had a winner.

10. SPIELBERG USED TRICKS TO GET THE PERFORMANCE OUT OF HIS CHILD ACTOR.


Columbia Pictures

Cary Guffey, who plays little Barry Guiler, had never acted before, so Spielberg set up ways to coax a performance out of the 3-year-old. To get a shot of Guffey reacting to the aliens first approaching the Guiler house, Spielberg slowly unwrapped a present for the young actor just off camera, making him smile. Guffey even exclaims “Toys! Toys!” in the final take.

To get the boy to react to the aliens offscreen, Spielberg had Guffey walk up to his mark where—unbeknownst to the little actor—two crewmembers were dressed as a gorilla and a clown standing behind cardboard blinds. When Guffey entered the kitchen, Spielberg dropped the first blind revealing the clown to scare him, and then dropped the other blind to reveal the gorilla, which scared him even more. The gorilla then took off his mask, revealing the film’s makeup man, Bob Westmoreland, who Guffey recognized, causing him to laugh and smile in the final take.

11. THE MOVIE NEARLY FEATURED VERY EARLY CGI.

Spielberg originally toyed with the idea of using computer generated images to create the aliens and their ships, even going so far as to have animator Colin Cantwell create a CGI test of three UFOs floating over a stadium. The single-shot test, which took three weeks to complete and was one of the first computer generated images ever created for a film, proved to be unfeasible for the whole movie—so the idea was dropped.

12. THERE WERE SOME UNORTHODOX IDEAS FOR CREATING THE ALIENS.

Spielberg wanted the aliens to be non-human beings that glided instead of walked, and he had a weird idea to pull it off: An orangutan dressed in a specially-made suit. For a screen test, the production team outfitted an orangutan in grey spandex and strapped it into roller skates. The orangutan immediately took off the skates and crawled to its owner, so a full test couldn’t be completed, and the team scrapped the idea. The majority of the small aliens in the final movie were played by local elementary school girls from Mobile in specially made grey suits and masks who were heavily backlit to create the final alien silhouette effect.

13. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS FEATURES A PRECURSOR TO E.T.


Columbia Pictures

To create the alien who bids farewell using the musical hand signals at the end of the film, Spielberg enlisted the help of Italian special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who designed a fully articulated steel, aluminum, and fiberglass animatronic puppet that Spielberg nicknamed “Puck.” Puck’s expressions were based on photos of Guffey. The puppet was operated by a crew of seven puppeteers, with Spielberg himself controlling the final articulation before the alien leaves to go to the mothership.

Puck would help inspire E.T. after Spielberg asked himself, “What if this little guy didn’t get back on the mothership?” Rambaldi would also go on to design the character of E.T.

14. SPIELBERG BET AGAINST HIS OWN MOVIE—AND REALLY CASHED IN.

Spielberg and his buddy George Lucas both had new movies coming out in 1977; Lucas’s was a little movie called Star Wars. Lucas thought his ramshackle space movie wouldn’t make back its budget, and he knew his friend’s new movie would break box office records just like Jaws had done, so he offered Spielberg a friendly wager. Both agreed to give the other 2.5 percent of the profits of their respective films. Lucas grossly underestimated his movie, which went on to become the second highest grossing movie of all time if adjusted for inflation (in comparison, Close Encounters is #71). The difference ended up being $40 million.

15. SPIELBERG DIDN'T LIKE THE VERSION THAT WAS INITIALLY RELEASED.

Spielberg wanted to release Close Encounters in the summer of 1978, which would have given him ample time to edit the film and finish its special effects—but Columbia Pictures, which was going through major financial troubles, insisted he have it ready for a November 1977 release, leaving the director with a final cut on a movie he didn’t feel was completely ready. 

Three years later, the company allowed Spielberg to “finish” the movie under one condition: That he show the inside of the mothership, which would give the studio’s marketing department an angle to sell this new version. The director capitulated, adding new scenes and cutting others to create a “Special Edition.” The director was unhappy with the scene, though, and later cut it for the Collector's Edition home video release.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:Blu-ray special features; Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic FilmClose Encounters of the Third Kind Diary.

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Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library
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10 Treasures From the New York Academy of Medicine Library
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Tucked away on a side street near Central Park, the New York Academy of Medicine Library is one of the most significant historical medical libraries in the world. Open to the public by appointment since the 19th century, its collection includes 550,000 volumes on subjects ranging from ancient brain surgery to women's medical colleges to George Washington's dentures. A few weeks ago, Mental Floss visited to check out some of their most fascinating items connected to the study of anatomy. Whether it was urine wheels or early anatomy pop-up books, we weren't disappointed.

1. FASCICULUS MEDICINAE (1509)

The Fasciculus Medicinae is a compilation of Greek and Arabic texts first printed in Venice in 1491. While it covers a variety of topics including anatomy and gynecology, the book begins with the discipline considered most important for diagnosing all medical issues at the time: uroscopy (the study of urine). The NYAM Library's curator, Anne Garner, showed us the book's urine wheel, which once had the various flasks of urine colored in to help aid physicians in their diagnosis. Each position of the wheel corresponded to one of the four humors, whether it was phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, or melancholic. The image on the left, Garner explains, "shows the exciting moment where a servant boy brings his flasks to be analyzed by a professor." Other notable images in the book include one historians like to call "Zodiac Man," showing how the parts of the body were governed by the planets, and "Wound Man," who has been struck by every conceivable weapon, and is accompanied by a text showing how to treat each type of injury. Last but not least, the book includes what's believed to be the first printed image of a dissection.

2. ANDREAS VESALIUS, DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA (1543)

Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Frontispiece of Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Andreas Vesalius, born 1514, was one of the most important anatomists who ever lived. Thanks to him, we moved past an understanding of the human body based primarily on the dissection of animals and toward training that involved the direct dissection of human corpses. The Fabrica was written by Vesalius and published when he was a 28-year-old professor at the University of Padua. Its detailed woodcuts, the most accurate anatomical illustrations up to that point, influenced the depiction of anatomy for centuries to come. "After this book, anatomy divided up into pre-Vesalian and post-Vesalian," Garner says. You can see Vesalius himself in the book's frontispiece (he's the one pointing to the corpse and looking at the viewer). "Vesalius is trying to make a point that he himself is doing the dissection, he believes that to understand the body you have to open it up and look at it," Garner explains.

3. THOMAS GEMINUS, COMPENDIOSA (1559)

Flap anatomy from Thomas Geminus's Compendiosa
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

There was no copyright in the 16th century, and Vesalius's works were re-used by a variety of people for centuries. The first was in Flemish printer and engraver Thomas Geminus’s Compendiosa, which borrowed from several of Vesalius's works. The first edition was published in London just two years after the Fabrica. Alongside a beautiful dedication page made for Elizabeth I and inlaid with real gemstones, the book also includes an example of a "flap anatomy" or a fugitive leaf, which was printed separately with parts that could be cut out and attached to show the various layers of the human body, all the way down to the intestines. As usual for the time, the female is depicted as pregnant, and she holds a mirror that says "know thyself" in Latin.

4. WILLIAM COWPER, THE ANATOMY OF HUMANE BODIES (1698)

Illustration from William Cowper's The Anatomy of Humane Bodies
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

After Vesalius, there was little new in anatomy texts until the Dutch anatomist Govard Bidloo published his Anatomia humani corporis in 1685. The work was expensive and not much of a financial success, so Bidloo sold excess plates to the English anatomist William Cowper, who published the plates with an English text without crediting Bidloo (a number of angry exchanges between the two men followed). The copperplate engravings were drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, who Garner notes was "incredibly talented." But while the engravings are beautiful, they're not always anatomically correct, perhaps because the relationship between de Lairesse and Bidloo was fraught (Bidloo was generally a bit difficult). The skeleton shown above is depicted holding an hourglass, by then a classic of death iconography.

5. 17TH-CENTURY IVORY MANIKINS

17th Century Ivory Manikin
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

These exquisite figures are a bit of a mystery: It was originally thought that they were used in doctors’ offices to educate pregnant women about what was happening to their bodies, but because of their lack of detail, scholars now think they were more likely expensive collector's items displayed in cabinets of curiosity by wealthy male physicians. The arms of the manikins (the term for anatomical figures like this) lift up, allowing the viewer to take apart their removable hearts, intestines, and stomachs; the female figure also has a little baby inside her uterus. There are only about 100 of these left in the world, mostly made in Germany, and NYAM has seven.

6. BERNHARD SIEGFRIED ALBINUS, TABULAE SCELETI (1747)

Illustration from Bernhard Siegfried Albinus's Tabulae Sceleti
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

One of the best-known anatomists of the 18th century, the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus went to medical school at age 12 and had a tenured position at the University of Leiden by the time he was 24. The Tabulae Sceleti was his signature work. The artist who worked on the text, Jan Wandelaar, had studied with Gérard de Lairesse, the artist who worked with Bidloo. Wandelaar and Albinus developed what Garner says was a bizarre method of suspending cadavers from the ceiling in the winter and comparing them to a (very cold and naked) living person lying on the floor in the same pose. Albinus also continued the dreamy, baroque funerary landscape of his predecessors, and his anatomy is "very, very accurate," according to Garner.

The atlas also features an appearance by Clara, a celebrity rhinoceros, who was posed with one of the skeletons. "When Albinus is asked why [he included a rhinoceros], he says, 'Oh, Clara is just another natural wonder of the world, she's this amazing creation,' but really we think Clara is there to sell more atlases because she was so popular," Garner says.

7. FERDINAND HEBRA, ATLAS DER HAUTKRANKHEITEN (1856–1876)

Circus performer Georg Constantin as depicted in Ferdinand Hebra's dermatological atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

By the mid-19th century, dermatology had started to emerge as its own discipline, and the Vienna-based Ferdinand Hebra was a leading light in the field. He began publishing this dermatological atlas in 1856 (it appeared in 10 installments), featuring chromolithographs that showed different stages of skin diseases and other dermatological irregularities.

"While some of the images are very disturbing, they also tend to adhere to Victorian portrait conventions, with very ornate hair, and [subjects] looking off in the distance," Garner says. But one of the most famous images from the book has nothing to do with disease—it's a depiction of Georg Constantin, a well-known Albanian circus performer in his day, who was covered in 388 tattoos of animals, flowers, and other symbols. He travelled throughout Europe and North America, and was known as "Prince Constantine" during a spell with Barnum's Circus. (The image is also available from NYAM as a coloring sheet.)

8. KOICHI SHIBATA, OBSTETRICAL POCKET PHANTOM (1895)

19th century Obstetrical Pocket Phantom
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Obstetrical phantoms, often made of cloth, wood, or leather, were used to teach medical students about childbirth. This "pocket phantom" was originally published in Germany, and Garner explains that because it was made out of paper, it was much cheaper for medical students. The accompanying text, translated in Philadelphia, tells how to arrange the phantom and describes the potential difficulties of various positions.

9. ROBERT L. DICKINSON AND ABRAM BELSKIE, BIRTH ATLAS (1940)

Image from Robert Dickinson's Birth Atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Robert Dickinson was a Brooklyn gynecologist, early birth control advocate, and active member of NYAM. His Birth Atlas is illustrated with incredibly lifelike terracotta models created by New Jersey sculptor Abram Belskie. The models were exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where they became incredibly popular, drawing around 700,000 people according to Garner. His depictions "are very beautiful and serene, and a totally different way of showing fetal development than anything that had come before," Garner notes.

10. RALPH H. SEGAL, THE BODYSCOPE (1948)

The Bodyscope
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

This midcentury cardboard anatomy guide contains male and female figures as well as rotating wheels, called volvelles, that can be turned to display details on different parts of the body as well as accompanying explanatory text. The Bodyscope is also decorated with images of notable medical men—and "wise" sayings about God's influence on the body.

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