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Peter Robbins, who voiced Charlie Brown in the 1960s, has died

Voice actor Peter Robbins and the character he voiced, Charlie Brown, attend a DVD release party in Hollywood, Calif., in 2008.
Alberto E. Rodriguez
Voice actor Peter Robbins and the character he voiced, Charlie Brown, attend a DVD release party in Hollywood, Calif., in 2008.

Peter Robbins, the actor who first gave voice to the beloved Peanuts character Charlie Brown, has died at age 65.

"Robbins' family said he took his own life last week," reports Fox 5 TV in San Diego. Phil Blauer, an anchor at the station, was a longtime friend of Robbins. Over the years, he also helped to chronicle Robbins' struggles with mental health.

"My heart is broken today," Blauer tweeted on Tuesday as he reported the news of Robbins' death. He added, "May he rest in peace and soar in heaven. I only hope he finally kicks the football among the angels."

As a child actor, Robbins voiced one of Charlie Brown's most memorable lines — "I got a rock" — in the 1966 TV special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

A year earlier, Robbins spoke for multitudes of people who struggle with getting into the holiday spirit in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel," Charlie Brown said, before he and the rest of the Peanuts gang rallied to transform a forlorn tree with their love.

Discussing the depth of that moment years later, Robbins asked, "How could there be something wrong with a 9-year-old boy?"

Robbins was born in 1956 as Louis Nanasi — his parents were immigrants from Hungary, who had fled the devastation of World War II. After landing the plum role of the world's favorite blockhead, Robbins voiced Charlie Brown until his voice started to crack in his early teens.

In his adult life, Robbins struggled with addiction and bipolar disorder, and he spent some time in prison. In a 2019 interview, he credited the treatment he received after the worst of those troubles with helping him turn his life around.

Robbins embraced many aspects of having portrayed one of America's most beloved characters, including naming his own dog Snoopy and attending conventions where he signed autographs for young fans. He even got a tattoo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on his upper arm, showing the pair hugging each other.

If you or someone you know might be having thoughts of suicide, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — their number is 1-800-273-8255 — or 1-800-273-TALK.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.