50 Years After Its Premiere, ‘It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!’ Seems a Bit Forgotten Among the Major ‘Peanuts’ Holiday Specials

image from the 1974 animated Peanuts special
Courtesy Everett Collection
Linus appears to be thinking "Good grief" as he watches sister Lucy color eggs in It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

By my count, there have been 11 Peanuts holiday specials since 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The three specials that followed that iconic production — It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! (1974) — covered most of the other major holidays that I was familiar with and made for regular and enjoyable annual viewing when I was a kid in the ‘70s.

There was also Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown in 1975, but I don’t recall watching that one too much. Then things got a little more obscure in 1976 with It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown.

Later, between 1986 and 2021, there were two Peanuts New Year’s specials, two additional Christmas specials and one more Valentine’s special.

So, I guess I consider the first four Peanuts holiday specials to be the classics in the bunch, even if A Charlie Brown Christmas is a cut above the other three.

But — and maybe it’s just me — out of those original four, the one I hear about most infrequently, if at all, nowadays is It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

image from the 1974 animated Peanuts special "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown." It shows Peppermint Patty, on the left, and Marcie sitting on a bench. Each is holding a colored Easter egg, but Patty is looking in astonishment at Marcie, who has just taken a bite out of her egg after sprinkling salt on it (Marcie has the egg in her right hand and the salt shaker in her left, and her facial expression shows she is chewing the hard shell of the egg).

Courtesy Everett Collection

Part of that could be the nature of the Easter holiday, which can vary wildly as to when it lands during a given year.

When It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! premiered on CBS 50 years ago, on April 9, 1974, it was just a few days before Easter Sunday, which was on April 14 that year.

As I write this, it is a few days before Easter 2024, which falls on March 31. With Christmas and Halloween, you have set dates, and Thanksgiving, a set week in which it will fall, but with Easter, there is a general range of dates within a span of about three weeks or so when the holiday could land.

So, maybe people’s minds aren’t on the Easter holiday as much as they may be on the others, and aren’t thinking too much of specials related to the holiday.

But the biggest likely reason It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! may not be as thought about too often is because finding where to watch it in recent years has sometimes been as challenging as an Easter egg hunt.

For a long time, the special, like the other original Peanuts holiday classics, aired annually on CBS. In the 2000s, ABC began showing them, but it appears that the last time Easter Beagle aired on ABC, or another broadcast network, was in 2014.

Beginning in 2021, Apple TV+ became the exclusive home for all the Peanuts specials, old and new. Initially, even non-subscribers to the streaming service were granted access to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for a few days on and around their respective holidays. A Charlie Brown Christmas was also broadcast once on PBS during the holiday season for the first couple of years into Apple’s ownership.

I believe all of that has stopped, and the only way to see these specials now (outside of physical media) is on Apple TV+. But as far as I can tell, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! was never among the specials granted either the free Apple TV+ access for a couple of days or a PBS broadcast.

So maybe it just got lost in people’s minds over the years, but re-watching some clips from the special after many years (I truly cannot recall when I last watched the full special) is enjoyable, and gives a sense of the fun springlike feel to the production, which was written by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Special.

I particularly enjoy listening to longtime Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi’s lovely interpretations of a couple of movements from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony that surround the arrival of the “Easter Beagle” (spoiler alert: It’s actually Snoopy, voiced by producer Bill Melendez).

A little below are some clips from It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! for you to enjoy, and to help you remember it, if necessary.

First, though, here are a couple of promos for the special from back in the day; one from 1979 (which also includes bonus promos for The White Shadow and Lou Grant!) and one from 1986.


And, of course, no 1970s CBS kids’ special, whole or in part, can officially begin before we see and hear this iconic intro, which was always a sure sign that something fun and cool was about to start:

The special kicks off with the first of several attempts by Peppermint Patty and Marcie to color eggs, with first-timer Marcie just not getting the hang of it.

Even at Easter, Lucy is not very subtle in her efforts to get gifts out of Schroeder:

A fun little sequence where the ever-imaginative Snoopy dreams about dancing with a bunch of bunnies:

Just as Sally is busting Linus’ chops for getting everyone all riled up about the Easter Beagle seemingly for nothing, like he did with the Great Pumpkin, and sad-sack Charlie Brown is again whining about being alone on a holiday, the Easter Beagle arrives to bring (most) everyone out of their funk!

Epilogue and end credits:

Part of Guaraldi’s score for It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!