I've been reading coverage of the new biography of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, which is arousing the anger of the Schulz family, who feels their Dad has been unfairly profiled by the book's author. I haven't read the book, but I did have the great honor of interviewing Schulz shortly before he passed away.
When I first contacted his publicist, he matter of factly told me that his client rarely did interviews and was likely not going to let me come up and talk to him. I asked him to put the request through anyway. The next day to my great surprise I was invited to visit Santa Rosa and interview him. I was later told that mine was one of the few TV interviews Schulz ever did because he suffered from anxiety-related issues and didn't like to do TV.
He was kind and generous with his time: a true gentlemen, something I can't say about others I've interviewed over the years.
My crew and I convened in his office and I spent quite a while asking him questions. During a break in filming his eyes twinkled as he recounted how burglars had broken into his office and, leaving priceless framed "Peanuts" originals on the walls, had stolen some relatively worthless computer equipment.
As you'll see, during the interview Schulz made a point of telling me how much he hated autographs. I couldn't help but look over at my poor sound technician who had asked me before we traveled to Santa Rosa if it would be ok if he asked Schulz for an autograph and after I had said yes, had gone out and purchased a special card that he planned to frame. The poor guy was crestfallen, but there was no way anybody was asking for an autograph after that.
If the coverage is to be believed, the Charles Schulz that I encountered that day bears little resemblance to the one that appears in this book.
In any event, a transcript of the interview is posted here. If you're a Schulz fan, I hope you'll enjoy it.
From my vantage point, having actually spent time with him in conversation, he was a great man-humble, generous, kind and giving-and that's how I'll choose to remember Charles M. Schulz.