Friday, December 14, 2007
From The Peanuts Gallery: 5, 3 and 4
His full name is 555 95472 but you can call him “5” for short. The spiky-haired little boy (shorter and theoretically younger than either Charlie Brown or Linus) was introduced into the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz on September 30, 1963. “My dad says we have so many numbers these days we’re all losing our identity,” as 5 himself explained it. “He’s decided that everyone in our family should have a number instead of a name.” 5’s father became “completely hysterical one night,” driven over the brink by the Zip Code, the number that he adapted as the family name. (95472 is the Zip Code of Sebastopol, California, where Charles Schulz lived when he wrote and drew these strips.) 5’s sisters, identical twins named 3 and 4, entered the strip on October 10, and though they pretty much disappeared from the strip almost immediately, 5 became a regular member of Charlie Brown’s baseball team (sometimes with a "5" on his shirt, making him a bit easier to identify), and he was often seen in strips featuring the entire team, ensuring him panel time well into the 1970s. However, it’s A Charlie Brown Christmas that 5, 3 and 4 have to thank for true immortality. These obscure characters are featured in the beloved 1965 TV special in the famous dance scene, in which the Peanuts gang dances with abandon to the famed Vince Guaraldi composition, “Linus and Lucy.” In the frame pictured above, 3 and 4 are in the purple dresses and white boots, while 5 is wearing the orange shirt. The millions who watch the special on its annual TV airings may not know the numerical names of these all-but-forgotten Peanuts cast members but they know their hip dance steps by heart.