- For the one-off character from the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!), see Violette
Violet made her debut on February 7, 1951, making her the first major character to join the cast of the original four Peanuts characters (which consisted of Charlie Brown, Patty, Shermy, and Snoopy). She is best friends with Patty and they would often appear together as a duo. In the early strips, Violet was often portrayed as a preschool-aged Suzy Homemaker: making mud pies, playing "house," and imagining romantic scenarios involving her and Charlie Brown. She also collects stamps as a hobby and plays outfield (and sometimes third base) on Charlie Brown's baseball team, usually popping up in that capacity from time to time in later strips.
She is drawn with shoulder-length dark hair and is usually seen wearing a dress (although in later strips she is often shown wearing pants). Schulz originally alternated her hairstyle between braids and a ponytail, but within a few years she appeared exclusively with the ponytail look. In fact, it became so rare to see her without a ponytail that in the strip from November 23, 1962, Linus is startled enough to ask why she is wearing her hair down on her way to school. She yells that it is because her mother did not have time to comb her hair, since she was in such a hurry to go to Linus' house to play pool with his mother.
Violet never really developed a strong personality, especially when compared to the three characters who are introduced right after her (Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus). She would eventually be utilized as a straight woman to set up a punchline, almost similiar to that of Patty's role in the strip. However, while Violet first appeared a few months after Patty, Violet would go on to become a much more prominent character. In later years, it became rare for Violet to appear in the same strip as Patty. After Patty disappeared in 1976, Violet kept on appearing, mostly hanging around with her other friend Lucy, and often was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown. Schulz spoke of such characters in a 1988 interview. "Some characters just don't seem to have enough personality to carry out ideas," he said, referring to Violet, Patty and Shermy. "They're just almost born straight men."
Her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17. Charlie Brown and "Pig-Pen" attended her birthday party on that date in 1962 (although in the February 22, 1951 strip, she mentions that her birthday was "a month ago"). Her surname, Gray, was mentioned only once, on April 4, 1953.
Violet's most consistent personality trait is that she tends to be a bit of a snob, oftentimes being very self-conscious of her appearance and status. It is implied that her family enjoys a considerably higher class standing than the other characters. Both of her parents are college graduates and her father earns more money than Charlie Brown's (although the latter is not much of a claim since Mr. Brown is a barber). In one strip, she orders Linus to dress more stylishly, whereupon he quickly transforms his blanket into an ascot. She also frequently criticizes "Pig-Pen" for his inability to keep himself clean. Violet often looks down on people who fail to meet her elevated social standards, especially towards Charlie Brown, to whom she flatly states in one strip, "It simply goes without saying that you are an inferior human being."
Being supposedly of an upper-class upbringing, Violet also makes it a point to frequently brag about her father. This sometimes leads driving Charlie Brown to the point of aggravation, to which Violet's boastings to him are always comparative; to wit, she says, "My dad is taller than your dad", or "My dad has more credit cards than your dad". But in a Father's Day strip, her boasts are quelled for a moment when Charlie Brown takes her to his dad's barber shop. After telling her about how his dad always smiles at him no matter how bad of a workday he is having, an overwhelmed Violet walks away, but not before quietly wishing Charlie Brown a Happy Father's Day. Her bragging on her dad backfires in another strip when 5 fires back, "My dad goes to PTA meetings!"
Violet and Patty are best friends. They are often seen talking to each other about many things. In the early years, the two talked about how much they liked Shermy and Charlie Brown. In the later days, they started talking about how best to annoy Charlie Brown, and other characters.
In the early years of the strip, Violet's relationship with Charlie Brown seem to change day to day. In some strips, Violet would tell Charlie Brown how much she likes him, and be concerned about whether or not he liked her back. On other occasions, she would be mean and rude to Charlie Brown, and try to annoy him and hurt his feelings. As her appearances became less frequent in the later years of the strip, her mercurial nature was, however, unchanged: sometimes she would use any excuse to bring Charlie Brown down or elevate herself above him; while other times the two were quite cordial, often spending the day together chatting.
Violet seems to have a rocky, or at least competitive relationship with Lucy. They are sometimes seen fighting each other, verbally in the strip.
Her abuse of Charlie Brown
Violet's verbal assaults on Charlie Brown (usually in tandem with Patty) can be quite cruel - sometimes exceeding even the severity of Lucy's insults. A classic example of this is in the strip from May 3, 1961, in which Violet is seen lashing out at Charlie Brown, finishing him off with the line, "And I don't care if I ever see you again, do you hear me?!" Linus walks in and notices that Charlie Brown is really hurt. Charlie Brown then points out that Violet has not taken all the life out of him, lamenting "but you can number me among the walking wounded."
Violet is also the first person to call Charlie Brown a 'blockhead', in the strip from August 16, 1951, a trait that would later be taken over by Lucy.
Another example shows Patty and Violet reciting a very mean-spirited poem, pointing out that "Boys are rotten filled with cotton" and that "Girls are dandy filled with candy!" They then walk away smugly, where Charlie Brown retaliates with the phrase, "Generalities!!!" Still another involves the two berating Charlie Brown (in front of Linus) about a wrong answer Charlie Brown gave to a teacher's question, both going so far as to call him "stupid" and then walking off laughing at him.
"We're having a party, and you're not invited!"
While Lucy's insults tend to be fairly blunt - calling Charlie Brown names like "blockhead" and making sarcastic remarks at his expense - Patty and Violet prefer to use social exclusion as their weapon, sometimes going to the extremes of making him feel like an outcast. This can be seen as a caricature of the "in crowd" that exists at many elementary and secondary schools - a lording of their own status over peers who are not members of the "in." For example, in one strip they invite him to join their "secret club," and then immediately reject him after he accepts. In an early Sunday strip, Patty and Violet put Charlie Brown and Shermy to work building a clubhouse for them, only to hang a "No Boys Allowed" sign on the clubhouse door after it is finished.
On several other occasions, especially in the early years of the strip, Patty and Violet go out of their way - sometimes with unconcealed glee - to make sure Charlie Brown knows that they are throwing a party and he is not invited. However, Charlie Brown manages to get back at them on several occasions:
- In one strip, when they mention excluding Charlie Brown from their party, he lets it roll off his back saying he does not want to go to their "dumb ol' party" anyway. After he leaves, they ponder whether he meant it. Violet is convinced he did, so Patty suggests "In that case, maybe we'd better invite him."
- In another similar situation, he replies to them saying if they do not like him they are better off not inviting him. Stunned to silence, the girls simply walk away, with Charlie Brown smiling after them.
- In the strip from September 1, from 1954, Charlie Brown uncharacteristically threatens to strafe, then bomb their house if he is not invited, to which both girls state "Okay, you're invited."
- In another strip, he tells the girls that he does not care and runs off laughing, only to become disappointed at being rejected when he is out of sight from them.
Violet also differs from Lucy in that she is less often prone to using physical violence against Charlie Brown. In one Sunday strip, an angry Violet is seen chasing Charlie Brown, threatening to "knock (his) block off". Before she can throw a punch, Charlie Brown stops her and tries to reason with her, saying that there are better ways to solve problems than with violence. Unfazed, Violet ends up punching him in the middle of his speech, and in the final panel admits to Patty, "I had to hit him quick. He was beginning to make sense!"
Later years and TV appearances
Although no longer one of the main characters, Violet continued to make occasional appearances in the Peanuts comic strip throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. She last appeared in the strip from November 27, 1997.
Violet appears in several of the animated Peanuts television specials. Voice actors who played Violet over the years include Ann Altieri (who also voiced Frieda) from 1965-1989 and Linda Ercoli (who also voiced Peppermint Patty) from 1972-1975.
Violet's TV and film appearances
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
- Charlie Brown's All-Stars (1966)
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
- You're in Love, Charlie Brown (1966)
- He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968)
- It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
- Snoopy, Come Home (1972) [silent]
- You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)
- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
- You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975) [silent]
- It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976) [silent]
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) [silent]
- Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) (1980)
- The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (1983) [silent]
- Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (1986) [silent]
- Snoopy!!! The Musical (1988) [silent]
- Why, Charlie Brown, Why? (1990) [silent]
- It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
- He's a Bully, Charlie Brown (2006)
- Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011)
- Violet is one of the many Peanut characters to appear in the video game Snoopy's Street Fair, in which, she owns a cookie booth.
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from August, 16, 1951
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from February 3, 1952
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from November 23, 1951
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from September 1, 1954
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from October 15, 1952