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Peanuts and Garfield cartoon producer Lee Mendelson dies aged 86

Lee died aged 86 (Picture: 86)

The producer of cartoon classics Peanuts and Garfield, Lee Mendelson, died aged 86 on Christmas Day.

He passed away at his home in Hillsborough, California after a long battle with lung cancer.

Lee’s sons confirmed the producer’s death to the Palo Alto Daily Post and said: ‘It wasn’t great for us, but to have him pass on Christmas really ties into his history and legacy.’

During his lengthy career, Lee created more than 50 animated TV specials featuring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.

He also wrote the lyrics to Christmas Time Is Here, a very popular song featured in the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was released in 1965.

Thanks to his work on A Charlie Brown Christmas, the star received his first Emmy award, before going on to achieve five more.

He went on to earn 29 Emmy nominations during his career, with 26 of them associated with his work on Peanuts.

His work on Peanuts gained him recognition (Picture: AFF/PA Images)

Lee’s other Peanuts credits include It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, You’re in Love, Charlie Brown, A Boy Named Charlie Brown and more.

Before Lee worked on the song Christmas Time Is Here, it was meant to be instrumental.

He had hired Vince Guaraldi to do music for the television special but decided to add lyrics at the end.

Lee spoke to Rolling Stone in 2015 about the change of plan.

‘Guaraldi had written a very beautiful melody for the opening skating scene, but about two weeks before it was about to run on the air, I thought, “Maybe we could get a lyricist to put some words to this.”

‘I called a few lyricist friends of mine, and everyone was busy. So I sat down at my kitchen table and I wrote out a few words, and we rushed it to the choir that Vince Guaraldi had been working within San Francisco. And he recorded it, and we got it into the show about a week before it went on the air.’

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