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Twentieth Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide LLC. -TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
Twentieth Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide LLC. -TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Franklin Joined the Peanuts Gang 47 Years Ago Today

Twentieth Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide LLC. -TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
Twentieth Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide LLC. -TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

In the summer of 1968, the world was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters were at the height of their popularity, having recently starred in their fourth TV special after A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown had been established as instant classics. Though seemingly unrelated, a schoolteacher in Los Angeles saw a way to bring the two events together.

On April 15, 1968, Harriet Glickman sent a letter to Charles Schulz, which began:

Since the death of Martin Luther King, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast seas of misunderstanding, fear, hate, and violence.

She went on to express the importance mass media had “in shaping the unconscious attitudes of our kids,” and how “the introduction of Negro children into the group of Schulz characters could happen with a minimum of impact. The gentleness of the kids … even Lucy, is a perfect setting. The baseball games, kite-flying … yes, even the Psychiatric Service cum Lemonade Stand would accommodate the idea smoothly."

 

Immediately, Schulz replied; while his response was honest, it’s not what Glickman had hoped for. In Schulz’s letter, dated April 26, 1968, the cartoonist thanked Glickman for her suggestion, but said that by introducing an African-American character, he was "faced with the same problem that other cartoonists are who wish to comply with your suggestion. We all would like very much to be able to do this, but each of us is afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends." Schulz closed by stating that, "I don’t know what the solution is."

Undeterred, Glickman wrote back on April 27, acknowledging that Schulz has presented “an interesting dilemma” and requesting “permission to use your letter to show some Negro friends. Their response as parents may be useful to you in your thinking on this subject.”

Schulz was enthusiastic in his support of Glickman's endeavor, noting that he would be “very anxious to hear what your friends think of my reasons for not including a Negro character in the strip,” adding that he would be “very happy to try, but I am sure that I would receive the sort of criticism that would make it appear as if I were doing this in a condescending manner.”

Further missives followed, until Schulz sent a letter on July 1, urging Glickman to check out the paper the week of July 29, noting that “I have drawn an episode which I think will please you.”

On July 31, 1968, Franklin Armstrong made his comic strip debut as the Peanuts’ first African-American character, and the first minority character to appear in any major, mainstream comic strip.

Years later, Schulz would recall in an interview that the strips he drew featuring Franklin were some of the only ones that ever resulted in feedback, or pushback, from his editors.

“There was one strip where Charlie Brown and Franklin had been playing on the beach, and Franklin said, ‘Well, it's been nice being with you, come on over to my house some time,’” Schulz recalled. “[My editors] didn't like that. Another editor protested once when Franklin was sitting in the same row of school desks with Peppermint Patty, and said, ‘We have enough trouble here in the South without you showing the kids together in school.’ But I never paid any attention to those things, and I remember telling [United Features president] Larry [Rutman] at the time about Franklin—he wanted me to change it, and we talked about it for a long while on the phone, and I finally sighed and said, ‘Well, Larry, let's put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How's that?’ So that's the way that ended.”

As Twitter celebrates #FranklinDay, Glickman is proud of the part she played in helping to create the iconic character, stating that, “I often like to say that Franklin is my third child.”

 [h/t Mashable]

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British Film Institute
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Where to Watch Over 300 British Animated Films for Free Online
British Film Institute
British Film Institute

The history of animation doesn’t begin and end with studios in Japan and the U.S. Artists in the UK have been drawing and sculpting cartoons for over a century, and now some of the best examples of the medium to come out of the country are available to view for free online.

As It’s Nice That reports, the British Film Institute has uploaded over 300 films to the new archive on BFI player. Dubbed "Animated Britain," the expansive collection includes hand-drawn and stop motion animation and many distinct styles in between. Viewers will find ads, documentaries, films for children, and films for adults dating from 1904 to the 21st century. Episodes of classic cartoons like SuperTed and Clangers as well as obscure clips that are hard to find elsewhere are represented.

The archive description reads:

“Through its own weird alchemy, animation can bring our wildest imaginings to life, and yet it can also be a powerful tool for exploring our everyday reality. Silly, surreal, sweet or caustic, this dizzyingly diverse selection showcases British animation's unique contribution to the art form, and offers a history ripe for rediscovery.”

This institution’s project marks their start of a whole year dedicated to animation. UK residents can stream the selected films for free at BFI player, or check out their rental offerings for more British animated classics.

[h/t It’s Nice That]

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Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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You Can Still Visit This Forgotten Flintstones Theme Park in Arizona
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Amy Meredith, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Like many pop culture institutions of the 20th century, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones hasn’t been relegated to just one medium. The animated cast of America's favorite modern Stone Age family sold cigarettes, starred in a live-action 1994 film, and inspired all sorts of merchandise, including video games and lunchboxes. In 1972, it also got the theme park treatment.

Bedrock City, located 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon in Williams, Arizona, was the brainchild of Linda and Francis Speckels, a married couple who bought the property and turned it into a 6-acre tourist attraction. Concrete houses were built to resemble the Flintstone and Rubble residences and are furnished with props; a large metal slide resembles a brontosaurus, so kids can mimic the show’s famous title credits sequence; and statues of the characters are spread all over the premises. The site also doubles as an RV campground and parking site.

A Flintstones theme park house
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Bam-Bam at the Flintstones park in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A statue of Wilma Flintstone at Bedrock City in Arizona
Matthew Dillon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it first opened, Bedrock City employed actors to stay in character, but the remote location proved challenging to retain both employees and visitors. Over the past four decades, it's had a steady stream of tourists, but not enough to turn a huge profit. Atlas Obscura reports the attractions are in various stages of disrepair.

Linda Speckels put the property up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of $2 million, but it has yet to sell. One possible hold-up: The new owner would have to negotiate a fresh licensing deal with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. for the right to continue using the show’s trademarks. (A separate Flintstones park in South Dakota, owned by another member of the Speckels family, was sold and closed in 2015.) With its proximity to the Canyon, the 30 total acres could be converted into almost anything, from a mall to a golf course. For Flintstones enthusiasts, the hope is that the park’s unique attractions won’t be reduced to rubble.

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