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During his first week of school a teacher looked at a drawing of snow. She told the artist, Charles Schulz, he would one day be an artist. She probably had no idea he would create the most popular comic strip in the history of the world.

Schulz died February 12, 2000, at the age of 77, from a heart attack. He had fought colon cancer for three months and died the day before his last original episode of "Peanuts" was to be published. A series of strokes, which left him weak, and poor eyesight, forced him to quit creating the comic strip he loved.

As long as there are comics, however, people will probably always remember Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder and the other characters. "Peanuts" was published in 21 languages in 2,600 newspapers. Schultz reportedly made $55 million from Peanuts and had his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Even though he enjoyed a long, successful career, Schultz hadn't planned on retiring when he did.

"I always had the feeling that I would probably stay with the strip until I was in {my} early 80's," Schultz told a reporter on the Today Show. "All of a sudden it's gone; it's been taken away from me."

Ron Kirk, News Director of KRSO radio in Santa Rosa, California interviewed Schultz not long before his death.

"He was depressed on the one hand, because, obviously, this was the end," Kirk recalled. "But at the same time he was proud that he did something he loved for 50 years."

Schultz said he resembled Charlie Brown when he was young, and the character was supposed to represent Everyman. For that reason something bad often happened in the end to the character.

Schultz was often inspired by things that had happened to him: playing sports such as baseball and hockey; a loss bowling or in bridge; failing to qualify for a golf tournament; waiting in line for hours to get tickets for a movie; being rejected when he proposed marriage; a father who was a barber.

How many of us can relate when Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown every time before he could kick it or he lost one more baseball game? How many of our goals have been just out of reach? Actually, Schulz played baseball on a neigborhood team that won a championship, and he once pitched a no hit no run game.

He really did wait in line for hours in hopes of being one of the first 500 to get a movie ticket and win a candy bar. He believes he was the 501st person. The same thing happened to Charlie Brown.

He did have a mixed breed dog when he was young, named Spike, which inspired Snoopy. While Snoopy dreamed of being a pilot in World War II and was always trying to write the great American novel, Spike ate balls, pins, razor blades and once made himself so sick from eating too much spaghetti that he vomited.

Schultz was also inspired by the Bible. Once Linus told Lucy to not pick on him so much, because the Bible says to respect an older man. When Lucy reminded him he was actually younger than her, Linus said he felt so old, however.

In another strip, Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown were looking at clouds. Linus said one formation reminded him of Steven being stoned in the Bible, another reminded him of British Honduras, and another reminded him of the sculptor Thomas Ekins. When Lucy asked Charlie Brown what he saw, he said, "I was going to say I saw a duck and a horsie, but I changed my mind."

A toy piano given to his daughter inspired Schultz to create the character Schroeder, who wanted to be another Beethoven.

Schultz took a correspondence course in cartooning. His first jobs related to cartooning were as an instructor for the same school and writing captions for Timeless Topics, publisher of Catholic comics.

In those cartoons he also often drew children. Other instructors for the correspondence course saw those cartoons and encouraged him to draw more strips with children in them.

From 1948 to 1950 he sold 15 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post, his first sales to a major market. He then sold Peanuts to United Feature Syndicate in 1950.

All of the characters were named after people at the correspondence school. Charlie Brown was a good friend at the school.

Schultz said he didn't expect 'security blanket,' which Linus first used, to become a popular phrase or a Snoopy character to go to the moon as one did. He did expect to be successful, however.

"Well, frankly I did expect it (success), because it was something I had planned for since I was six years old."

A lot of fans are glad he did dream of success.