Peter Robbins, original voice of Charlie Brown, dies at 65

Peter Robbins, whose voice brought ‘Peanuts’ character Charlie Brown to life on television in the 1960s but who struggled with mental illness and served time in prison later in life, died on 18 January in Oceanside, California. He was 65 years old.

The cause of death was suicide, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.

A list of his survivors was not immediately available.

At age 9, Mr Robbins achieved a breakthrough when the producers of the 1965 TV movie ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ cast him as the voice of the hapless but endearing central character.

Introduced in Charles M. Schulz’s popular comic book “Peanuts,” Charlie Brown would become a sentimental on-screen presence with his catchphrase “Damn it!”, familiar yellow shirt, and frequent teasing from his friend Lucy.

Mr. Robbins, who was born Louis G. Nanasi, will share the franchise’s success, recounting at least six other television and film productions, including 1966’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown” a year later.

During his career, Mr Robbins has appeared in episodes of the TV shows “Rawhide”, “The Munsters”, “Get Smart” and “My Three Sons”, according to IMDb.

In the decades following his work as the voice of Charlie Brown, Mr. Robbins was unable to sustain his initial success and publicly struggled with mental illness and addiction.

In a 2019 interview with KSWB-TV, a Fox station in San Diego, he said he has bipolar disorder. The station spoke to Mr. Robbins after his release from prison, where he had served 80% of a nearly five-year sentence for threatening several people, including the San Diego County Sheriff and the property manager of a mobile home park near San Diego.

In 2013, Mr Robbins pleaded guilty to threatening his girlfriend and harassing a doctor who performed breast surgery on her, the station reported.

He was arrested again in 2015 for violating the terms of that probation, according to the station, which reported that Mr. Robbins made criminal threats to a judge and wrote letters from prison offering to pay $50,000 for having William D. Gore, San Sheriff of Diego County, killed.

“I went into a manic phase where I bought a motorhome, a mobile home, two German sports cars and a pit bull named Snoopy,” Mr Robbins told the station in 2019.

The actor said he regrets not getting help sooner for his mental illness.

“I would recommend anyone with bipolar disorder to take it seriously,” he said, “because your life can change in the span of a month like it did for me.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Go here for resources outside the United States.

Susan Campbell Beachy contributed to the research.

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