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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November 15, 1916

So, you might be noticing that November's been a dry month in this blog.  Part of the reason is that I'm taking a break for a bit so I can prepare for the Advent Calendar next month.  And, part of the reason is that I've been experiencing a bit of seasonal depression this year.  Maybe it has to do with Christmas coming earlier and earlier, or maybe it's all the negative vibes surrounding the 2016 Election results...I can't really say for sure.  It's just been an off month.

Fortunately, I do have a Tuesday Timeline prepared.  Before we look at today's topic, let's have a look at the other historical events that took place on November 15.

1791 - Georgetown University opens

1806 - Zebulon Pike spots a distant mountain peak while near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado - that peak would come to be known as Pikes Peak

1864 - Atlanta, Georgia is burned to the ground by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman during the American Civil War

1887 - Artist Georgia O'Keeffe (d. 1986) is born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

1914 - Harry Turner becomes the first player to die from game related injuries in the "Ohio League"

1915 - Winston Churchill resigns from the Liberal government; later goes on to command the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front

1920 - The Free City of Danzig is established

1926 - NBC Radio debuts on 24 individual stations

1937 - Singer Little Willie John (d. 1968) is born in Cullendale, Arkansas

1939 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays down the cornerstone of what would come to be the Jefferson Memorial

1942 - The Battle of Guadalcanal ends

1952 - Wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage (d. 2011) is born in Columbus, Ohio

1959 - The Clutter family is murdered in Holcomb, Kansas; the event is the inspiration behind Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood"

1968 - Rapper Russell Tyrone Jones - otherwise known as Ol' Dirty Bastard - (d. 2004) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1969 - The Moratorium March takes place in Washington D.C., where an estimated half a million protesters gathered to protest America's involvement in the Vietnam War

1971 - Intel releases the first commercial single-chip microprocessor

1979 - A flight enroute from Chicago to Washington D.C. is forced to make an emergency landing due to a package in the cargo hold beginning to smoke; it is later revealed that the package was sent by Ted Kaczynski (a.k.a. The Unabomber) - and six years later...

1985 - A research assistant is seriously wounded when a package sent by the Unabomber that was addressed to a professor at the University of Michigan explodes

1990 - Space Shuttle Atlantis launches

2003 - The first day of the 2003 Istanbul bombings; 25 are killed and another 300 injured after two car bombs explode outside of two synagogues in the area

2007 - Parts of the Sundarbans (the world's largest mangrove forest located in Bangladesh) are destroyed when a cyclone strikes the nation; 5,000 people would lose their lives in the storm

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people - C.W. McCall, Ed Asner, Petula Clark, Joanna Barnes, Terry Bradbury, Roberto Cavalli, Sam Waterston, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Beverly D'Angelo, James Widdoes, Kevin S. Bright, Randy Thomas, Kevin Eubanks, Judy Gold, Kevin J. O'Connor, Rachel True, Jennifer Charles, Jack Ingram, Jay Harrington, Jessica Hynes, Jonny Lee Miller, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Chad Kroeger, Brandon DiCamillo, Virginie Ledoyen, Sean Murray, Ace Young, and Shailene Woodley.

So, what dat are we going back in time this week?  I know last week we went back to the year...2016.  Not much of a trip, I admit.

Fear not.  This time around, we're going to go back a hundred years to November 15, 1916!  And while you might not know it now, today's subject was a huge part of many people's childhoods, and continues to be heard today even though he passed away eight years ago.

In fact, I have a feeling that within the next month or so, I'll be hearing his voice quite a bit.  After all, he was a huge part of "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  He directed that special, as well as almost every other one featuring the Peanuts crew.  And he also voiced two very important characters in every single Peanuts project - including the 2015 film "The Peanuts Movie", which was released seven years after his death!  I guess it was a good thing that archival footage from over fifty years of production existed!

Okay, so the characters he voiced were Snoopy and Woodstock.  And, yes, they did talk in unintelligible gibberish that was sped up at two different speeds.  He still voiced them.

And today, Jose Cuauhtemoc Melendez would have turned one hundred years old!  Of course, most people probably knew him as Bill Melendez.

Now, Bill Melendez had a career that most people dream of having.  And he spent almost his whole life creating entertainment for children of all ages.  Would you believe that he got his start at Walt Disney Productions?  He served on the production team on "Pinocchio", "Fantasia", "Dumbo", and "Bambi"!  And for those of you who are Disney fans like myself, you know that those four movies were essentially the cornerstone for which all future Disney films were built on.  That's quite an impressive start for any resume, but his story didn't end there.  Not by a long shot.

When Disney went on strike in the early 1940s, Melendez moved on to Warner Brothers, where he assisted many famous animators in their own projects including Bob Clampett, Robert McKimson, and Arthur Davis.  From there, he would join the staff of United Productions of America, and eventually would form his own studio in 1963 - located in the basement of his own home!

With having built a solid reputation for himself in the animation industry, it's no secret that he attracted the attention of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.  Schulz was looking for somebody to assist him in bringing his very first Peanuts special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas", to life.  And having seen first hand how good his previous works were, Schulz gave Melendez the job.  And when "A Charlie Brown Christmas" became a huge holiday success, Schulz trusted him with all future Peanuts projects.  These included all of the prime time specials, four feature films, television commercials for A&W and MetLife, the 1985 Saturday morning cartoon series, and several other projects that included the Peanuts gang.  He would continue to work on the Peanuts projects right up until 2006, with "He's A Bully, Charlie Brown".

And teaming up with Lee Mendelson, he would also bring another comic strip to life when he served on the animation team of the first two primetime Garfield specials.  And he'd also add a little bit of Rankin-Bass to the mix by working on the 1992 television special "Frosty Returns".

Sadly, Bill Melendez passed away on September 2, 2008 at the age of 91.  But even though he's been gone for almost eight years, he continues to make a mark on pop culture.  Any time you see a Charlie Brown special on television, he's a part of it.  Any time you hear Snoopy speak, that's his voice!  And, one thing you can't deny...he's definitely been a part of almost every single person's childhood and will probably continue to be for generations to come.

Happy 100th birthday, Bill Melendez!

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