You're a Good Stalker, Charlie Brown

By Ned Hepburn

Peter Robbins, a former child actor who was the original voice actor for Charlie Brown in many cartoon specials, was booked into custody at 3:40 AM this past Sunday. He was arrested on one felony count of stalking, and several charges of making death threats. 

Do you think the guy who voiced Captain Planet ever gets caught littering? Has the guy who voiced Ren and Stimpy been arraigned for spousal abuse? The mind reels. 

Charlie Brown the character is known for being entirely self loathing and somewhat creepy when it came to his obsession with a certain "redheaded girl," a character based off of a girl from cartoonist Charles Shultz's own life. Shultz dated a woman named Donna Mae Johnson for three years before proposing, and was devastated when she said no and promptly married a fireman. Shultz ended up writing about the "little red headed girl" for the rest of his life in the Peanuts comic book strip. 

Perhaps Peter Robbins' obsession is another case of an actor (or artist, or what have you) getting too involved with their own character. Perhaps it ain't. Perhaps it's just another case of a creepy guy being creepy.  

Quite a few performers end up taking their characters home with them. By no means am I correlating Robbins' creepo factor with Heath Ledger's marvelous acting, but Heath's involvement in his Joker character (for 2008's The Dark Knight) was apparently a factor in his death. Plagued by insomnia after the movie, he began taking strong sleeping meds, along with his usual amount of regular recreational pills. Ledger was found dead with a sizable amount of Oxycontin, Valium, and Xanax in his system. While this is arguably a tragedy, it is also another case of someone taking their homework home with them and refusing to let it go. 

Those who read the tabloids regularly are used to the tired ol' story of a child actor flaming out like a roman candle with drugs and alcohol, perhaps in Peter Robbin's case it just took an extra 45 years to manifest itself. Imagine being a child star. Now imagine portraying something as famous as the character of Charlie Brown. One can imagine that that sort of "woe is me," self-deflating headspace that Robbins inhabited for 45 years since his childhood role as Brown may have fucked with him beyond belief. Not to add insult to injury, but has anyone heard from Snoopy since the Peanuts specials went off the air? No. Little dog stayed Joe Cool about the sitch and is unflappable. 

Mind you, a lot of people can play a character and leave it be at the end of the day. And it should go without saying that there isn't any excuse for making death threats or stalking or everything else Robbins (allegedly, although the evidence is overwhelmingly against him) did. To offer someone any sort of pass for what amounts to personally terrorizing someone would be remiss. But perhaps, maybe in some "TV movie of the week" capacity, we can understand just how fucked the inside of his head must have been from being lumped together with such in an iconic character all his life. It warped him. 

Good grief, indeed.

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