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By Caitlin O'toole
Updated September 17, 1997 12:00 AM
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Dennis the Menace, the blond, freckled mischievous forever-young five-and-a-half year old is celebrating his 50th birthday . . . and the city that “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz called home is paying tribute to the late cartoonist, reports the Associated Press. Dennis the Menace’s creator, Henry “Hank” Ketcham, who turns 81 on March 14, has come up with a series of classic panels to commemorate the boy’s journey through American culture. They will run in 1,000 newspapers worldwide from March 5-12, each illustrating the different generations — from the 1950s to the 1990s. So to what does Ketcham attribute Dennis’s lasting popularity through the years? “Nothing changes with kids four and five years old all over the world,” he said, reports the AP. “They’re still in that protective area of being too big for the playpen and too young for school and too little to hit, and you can’t put them in jail,” he said. In other cartoon news, a bronze “Peanuts” sculpture of a smiling Charlie Brown with his arm around Snoopy was unveiled this weekend. The 4-foot sculpture was a $270,000 project commissioned by the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, California. Schulz died at his Santa Rosa home of complications of cancer on Feb. 12, 2000, the day before his farewell “Peanuts” cartoon was published. He was 77. “I think everyone who will see the sculpture will feel happy,” said the cartoonist’s widow, Jean Schulz.