|Family||Rerun van Pelt (brother),
Lucy van Pelt (sister),
Blanket-hating grandmother, and Unnamed Parents
|Original voice actor||Christopher Shea|
|Other voice actors||Jeremy Miller
|First appearance||September 19, 1952|
Linus van Pelt is a character in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. The best friend of Charlie Brown, Linus is also the younger brother of Lucy van Pelt and older brother of Rerun van Pelt. He first appeared on September 19, 1952; however, he was not mentioned by name until three days later. He was first referenced two months earlier, on July 14. Linus spoke his first words in 1954, the same year he was shown with his security blanket.
On the various specials, Christopher Shea first voiced Linus van Pelt in 1965. His younger brother, Stephen, voiced Linus from 1971 until 1975. Various actors (among them Jeremy Miller of Growing Pains fame) have played Linus since then.
Though young, Linus is unusually smart, and he acts as the strip's philosopher and theologian, often quoting the Gospels. He also invented his own quasi-religious being, The Great Pumpkin, who (like Santa Claus) mysteriously appears every year, bringing presents. The Great Pumpkin, however, appears on Halloween and only at the most sincere pumpkin patch, which Linus invariably believes is his own. Linus is the only one who believes in the Great Pumpkin. Though he occasionally convinces other characters the Great Pumpkin is real, they always lose faith, while Linus keeps his.
Linus has brown hair and he normally wears a red shirt with stripes on it, black shorts, and tennis shoes. On Feb. 5, 1962, Linus began wearing eyeglasses after being diagnosed with myopia. However, after Aug. 6, 1962, his glasses inexplicably disappeared from the strip.
In the cartoon specials, Linus is usually portrayed as having a slight lisp.
Perhaps paradoxically, given his advanced intellect, Linus is almost never without his blue blanket, which debuted in the June 1, 1954 strip. He holds the blanket over his shoulder while sucking his thumb. It was in fact he who coined the term "security blanket." Ridicule of the habit is not a major concern for him as shown when one friend, Roy, warned him at summer camp that he would be viciously teased for it. In response, Linus uses his blanket like a whip and shears off a tree branch with intimidating power and notes "They never tease me more than once." The blanket, it turns out, is an autonomous (although non-verbal) entity. In a 1965 strip, it engaged in a campaign of clandestine attacks on Lucy, even routing her from the house, due to her constant, albeit failed, attempts to get rid of it by throwing it in the trash burner. In the special A Boy Named Charlie Brown, it also performed a complex dance routine with Linus upon being reunited with his owner.
In the earlier strips, Linus's relationship to his blanket was one of intense emotional attachment to the point of manifesting physical symptoms if deprived of it even for a short while. He suffered weakness and dizziness, for example, when Lucy took it from him only long enough to have it laundered, spontaneously recovering when it was restored to him. On another occasion, Lucy snatched his blanket away and buried it in an effort to break Linus of his habit. Linus searched the neighborhood for days trying to find it.
Possession of the blanket is often sought by Snoopy, who has used many tricks and subterfuges to relieve Linus of it, even at one point having the blanket delivered to his doghouse. In another instance, Linus was so angry at Snoopy for snatching his blanket again and again that he retaliated by threatening Snoopy's supper dish. Upon hearing that Linus had possession of his most prized possession, Snoopy gave Linus back the blanket fairly quickly, thinking, "I never dreamed he would fight so dirty!". When Lucy buried the blanket, Snoopy took the time to dig for it himself; and when he found it, Linus thanked him, upon which Snoopy thought "Every now and then I feel that my existence is justified!"
Furthermore, there are many stories where Lucy and Linus's grandmother attempts to force him to give up the blanket, only to eventually concede in the face of his steadfast resistance. Two attempts were when the Grandmother in question gave up smoking, and when she offered that if he gave up the blanket she would donate ten dollars to his favorite charity. The deal wasn't made because it wasn't a fair proposition.
The April 11, 1983 strip shows Linus saying that he had given up his blanket, and later going from door to door, telling people how he gave up his blanket. Once, this resulted in the girl at the door lashing him with her blanket, in her anger. Linus replied "Stupid kid!".
In one particularly angry confrontation over the issue (the aforementioned blanket for smoking episode) Linus admitted that if his mother ordered him to stop, he would comply; but no one else, especially Lucy or the "blanket-hating" grandmother, would have that authority. Never objecting, the mother was evidently content to let her unusually intelligent son grow out of the habit on his own. In later strips, Linus is shown with it less and less, and Charles Schulz admitted in 1989 that Linus had finally outgrown the blanket, and it was only in the strip when required for the humor. In one comic, Linus suddenly stops sucking his thumb and says "It's a good thumb, but not a great thumb."
Upon his introduction into the strip in 1959, Linus had the desire to marry Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally Brown. However, as the strip progressed, he outgrew this idea, while Sally on the other hand fell in love with Linus, calling him her "Sweet Babboo." Linus in turn has an innocent crush on his school teacher, Miss Othmar (later Mrs. Hagemeyer). In some of the later '90s strips he developed an interest in Lydia, the girl who sits behind him, who keeps changing her name and, as Linus is two months older than she, asks him, "Aren't you kind of old for me?" (This is a subtle reference to cartoonist Schulz and his own second wife, who was some twenty years younger than he.) It was also Linus who first introduced Frieda, as "...a sort of a friend of mine" who sat behind him in school. He also fell for several different girls in various animated television specials, as well as a girl called Truffles, whom he and Snoopy met while looking for the fungi bearing her name.
Linus meekly submits to domination by his older sister Lucy, who has been known to attack him at the drop of a hat. Linus did finally challenge her to a fight when he thought he could beat her in a boxing match, only to get knocked out.
However, Linus often defuses Lucy's temper through passive resistance and clever use of his intellect, either logically talking Lucy out of hitting him or confusing her into submission. Later in the strip, the pair got a younger brother, Rerun, who looks nearly identical to Linus, though smaller. Coincidentally, this occurred at the same time Lucy kicked Linus out of the house, leading her to cry "A new baby brother? But I just got rid of the old one!"
Linus generally plays second base on Charlie Brown's Little League team. Sometimes, when for some reason Charlie Brown can't pitch, Linus takes the mound and is unhittable. Charlie Brown's team always wins games when Linus pitches.