For the 52nd(!) year in a row, the delightful “Peanuts” special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is being broadcast tonight (8 p.m. EST on ABC). There’s not much I can add to the half-century of praise this charming half-hour has received and deserved. In fact, The AV Club has said it better than I ever could — click here to read their review/tribute/plug of the show. And embedded below is the original promo for the special from 1966, when it initially aired on CBS. (And remember, it’s “When the Great Pumpkin comes,” not “If.”)
Forgive me if you’ve heard this, but I have to provide a little background for those who haven’t.
Lucille Ball and Buster Keaton became friends on the M-G-M lot in the 1940’s. He was a gag man and some-time supporting player with his movie-starring days behind him; she was a supporting player with her TV-starring days ahead of her. It’s said that Ball gained much of her physical comedy skills from Keaton.
The only time they ever appeared together was in “A Salute to Stan Laurel,” a well-intended but majorly botched 1965 tribute to Laurel broadcast by CBS a few months after his death. One of the few highlights of the special was Ball and Keaton’s sketch, a routine that Keaton had previously done on stage with his wife Eleanor.
Here, at the 6:07 mark, Dick Van Dyke introduces the bit. Harvey Korman can be seen as an irate cop. Also, the unfolding-newspaper bit is taken wholesale from Keaton’s 1921 short subject The High Sign.