Peter Robbins, the first actor to voice Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoons and movies, died by suicide last week, Fox 5 San Diego reports. He was 65.
Robbins’ family confirmed his death, although a rep did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. The actor had long struggled with mental illness and bipolar disorder, while he also battled drug and alcohol addiction, and had several stints in prison.
Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Robbins began acting as a kid and scored minor TV roles on shows like Rawhide and The Munsters in the early Sixties. In 1963, he was tapped to voice Charlie Brown as Charles Schulz began to adapt his Peanuts comic strip into a cartoon.
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The first proper Peanuts TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, was released in 1965. Over the next several years, Robbins would voice Charlie Brown in more TV specials and movies, including classics like Charlie Brown’s All-Stars, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and the 1969 Peanuts feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. (Along with his work on the Peanuts cartoons, Robbins continued to pick up other acting roles on TV shows like F Troop, Good Times, and Get Smart.)
In the Seventies, as Robbins got older, he was replaced as the voice for Charlie Brown. He made a couple of more television appearances and his last credit was a 1972 episode of My Three Sons. Robbins eventually pursued a career in real estate, and he also hosted a radio talk show in Palm Springs, California, in the Nineties.
In 2013, Robbins was arrested and charged with making criminal threats and stalking. He eventually pleaded guilty to threatening his ex-girlfriend and stalking a plastic surgeon who did her breast augmentation, and served four months in jail plus probation. But he was soon back in custody for violating the terms of his probation, as well as threatening a sheriff, a judge, and the manager of a mobile home park (he was ultimately sentenced to nearly five years in prison).
During his hearings, Robbins stated that he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. During his second incarceration, he was transferred to a state mental hospital. Following his release in 2019, Robbins spoke about his struggles with mental illness and time in prison with Fox 5 San Diego: “I would recommend to anybody that has bipolar disorder to take it seriously because your life can turn around in a span of a month like it did to me. I came out of prison and I’m a better person for it. I’m much more humble, grateful and thankful that I lived through the experience.”
Robbins also remained deeply fond of and attached to Charlie Brown and Peanuts throughout his life. After his 2019 release, he touched up his tattoo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, saying, “It’s a symbol to me of refurbishing my life. I don’t have any animosity toward anybody. I want to write a book about my experiences in jail, prison, and what I have to look forward to. Confessions of a Blockhead is what I’m going to call it.”
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