SAN DIEGO — After serving 80 percent of a five-year sentence, Peter Robbins, the original voice of beloved cartoon character Charlie Brown, is hoping for a comeback.
“Well, I know I was certainly mentally ill, “Robbins said, “I wish I had gotten treatment earlier by professionals.”
The now 63-year-old, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is a convicted two-strike felon for making criminal threats against several people, including San Diego County Sheriff William Gore.
“I went on a manic phase where I bought a motor home, a mobile home, two German sports cars and a pitbull named Snoopy,” Robbins said.
During part of his stay at George Bailey Detention Center in Otay Mesa in 2015, Robbins said he was welcomed by inmates in an unforgettable way.
“They pull you out of bed at 4 a.m.,” Robbins said. “They throw a blanket over your head and beat you for 20 seconds.”
Later, at Chino Men’s Prison, he encountered a shirtless inmate with a swastika tattooed from his upper chest to his waist.
“I said, ‘Listen moron, when you’re in the yard, put a shirt on. I know what that symbol means and my grandfather died at the hands of the Nazis.'”
The former child actor, who also appeared in TV series including “Get Smart” and “The Munsters,” said his lowest point came in solitary confinement.
“These people were screaming all throughout the night,” Robbins said. “Plus, the guards knocked on your door every 20 minutes to make sure you’re still alive.”
Robbins has been treated for addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex. But it was his mental demons that got him transferred to a state mental hospital in Atascadero before being released to a North County sober living home.
“I would recommend to anybody that has bipolar disorder to take it seriously because your life can turn around in a span of a month like it did to me,” Robbins said.
A judge ordered Robbins to not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. He must also take anger management classes in order to maintain his freedom.
“I came out of prison and I’m a better person for it,” Robbins said. “I’m much more humble, grateful and thankful that I lived through the experience.”
To celebrate, Robbins touched up his tattoo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on his right bicep to remember the characters who will always be part of his past, present and future.
“It’s a symbol to me of refurbishing my life,” Robbins said. “I don’t have any animosity towards anybody. I want to write a book about my experiences in jail, prison and what I have to look forward to. ‘Confessions of a Blockhead’ is what I’m going to call it.”
It may be nearly 55 years later, but the spirit of that young boy has kept Robbins together during his darkest days as a troubled grown man.
“‘Charlie Brown’ fans are the greatest fans in the world,” Robbins said. “And everybody is willing, I hope, to give me a second chance.”