Clark Gesner, composer-lyricist of Peanuts-based “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” died July 23 of a heart attack in Manhattan. He was 64.
Musical, based on Charles M. Schulz’s cartoon characters, was a hit in 1967, ran almost 1,600 perfs at the Theater 80 in the East Village, led to six national tours and has become a staple at high schools, colleges and community theaters. Original cast included Gary Burghoff as Charlie Brown and Bob Balaban as Linus.
Augusta, Maine, native became an actor, writer and composer at Princeton’s Triangle Club, then became a staff writer for the TV’s “Captain Kangaroo,” during which he started working on the “Charlie Brown” musical, gaining Schulz’s blessing.
Another musical he penned, “The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall,” about an English boarding school, ran just one night in 1979. He continued to write cabaret and theater songs, many of which were in a 1998 revue, “The Jell-O Is Always Red,” in which he performed. He also appeared in regional productions of “1776,” “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Carnival!”
He is survived by two nieces and a nephew.