IN LATE 2010, while sitting with members of Team “Peanuts,” I was saddened to learn that Chris Shea — the child actor who originally voiced Linus Van Pelt — had died earlier that year, at age 52.
Now comes the distressing news that Peter Robbins, who voiced Charlie Brown in those first, now-immortal “Peanuts” TV specials, was arrested Sunday in Southern California on outstanding warrants and charges of threatening violence, according to the U-T San Diego.
Adding to the misery: Robbins, 56, reportedly has terminal pancreatic cancer.
The U-T San Diego says that Robbins, of Oceanside, Calif., “has exhibited increasingly erratic behavior, told others he has nothing to lose, according to the affidavit to his arrest warrant. The change in behavior and terminal illness made him a danger to the community, a district attorney investigator argued in court documents.”
Robbins, the newspaper says, plead not-guilty Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court on 12 counts involving criminal threats and stalking; bail has been set at $550,000.
The allegations reportedly stem from a series of incidents involving Robbins’s girlfriend, her plastic surgeon (who performed breast augmentation on the girlfriend) and a police sergeant.
The former child actor faces as much as nine years in prison if convicted, Reuters reports.
“If not for Chris Shea, those two specials don’t work,” Robbins said at the time of “Christmas” and “Pumpkin.” “I give him all the credit in the world. I’m like the pitcher who sets him up for each line.”
(As Linus, Shea delivered the famed biblical soliloquy in that Christmas special — in what was considered a bold move by “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz, who made the specials with animator Bill Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson.)
Of those two “Peanuts” holiday classics, Robbins also said to Comic Riffs: “How many times can you make two ‘Sgt. Pepper’ albums?”