By Lee Habeeb
It first aired on television sets across America back in 1965 — and it’s been running ever since.
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This week, ABC will air the show to millions of adoring fans, old and new alike. Indeed, it now seems inconceivable to think of the holiday season without the classic cartoon, but the story of how “A Charlie Brown Christmas” came to be is in itself a classic American story — or, more accurately, how it almost didn’t come to be.
Charles Schulz, the show’s creator, had some fundamental ideas about the 30-minute Christmas special. One of them had to do with a reading from the King James Bible’s version of the Gospel of Luke. It turns out that as far back as 1965 — just a few years before Time Magazine asked “Is God Dead?” in a big cover story — network bosses, advertising executives on Madison Avenue, and even a few of Schulz’s artistic collaborators thought a Bible reading in a cartoon show might turn off a nation populated with Christians — and in a Christmas special, no less!