Believe it or not The Smurfs, those loveable, blue-skinned, white hats-wearing creatures that have become cultural icons have their 65th anniversary in 2023. From their inception in the 1950s all the way through to today, they’ve delighted and entertained children around the world with their adventures, appearing in comic books, TV series, films, videogames and as countless toys. With new projects being released for the 65th anniversary, let’s first take a look back at the history of The Smurfs. 

The Smurfs - Peyo
Pierre Culliford (aka Peyo)

From humble beginnings 

Created by Pierre Culliford (aka Peyo), in 1958, The Smurfs – or Les Schtroumpfs – made their comic book debut in the Belgian magazine Spirou. They featured during a Johan and Peewit adventure, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, quickly gaining fans. So much so that their first independent stories began a year later, as well as subsequent outings with Johan and Peewit. 

After beginning their comic-book adventures the adorable Smurfs began featuring in other mediums. In the 1960s the first figures were created, followed by the first feature-length movie in 1975. This was based on the original The Smurfs and the Magic Flute. 

By the 1980s The Smurfs’ appeal was global, with LA-based Hanna-Barbera Studios working with Peyo on a cartoon series for television. Over 150 episodes were created, broadcasting in 1982.  

The Smurfs - TV series 1981
The Smurfs – TV series (1981)

Who are the Smurfs? 

There are several key facts about The Smurfs that you may (or may not) already know, and they don’t involve their blue skin. Peyo created 100 Smurfs, more commonly referred to as 99 and 1 Smurfs, referencing that only one female Smurf existed, Smurfette. Although that’s incorrect as Sassette and Nanny Smurf have made appearances. 

All Smurfs are “three apples” tall and only Smurfette has hair, all the rest are born bald. They can also live for hundreds of years. This was demonstrated in the cartoon’s sixth season when Grandpa Smurf returned from a 500-year-long journey around the world. 

The Smurfs are known for their fun adventures, and they wouldn’t be the same without an antagonist. In this case, it is Gargamel, a conniving, evil human wizard. Fixated on riches, power and capturing Smurfs, Gargamel is obsessed with them, making him their greatest enemy. The wizard was the one who created Smurfette to sow conflict among the gnomes.  

“Sugar and spice but nothing nice; a dram of crocodile tears; peck of bird brain; the tip of an adder’s tongue; half a pack of lies, white, of course; the slyness of a cat; the vanity of a peacock; the chatter of a magpie; the guile of a vixen and the disposition of a shrew; and of course, the hardest stone for her heart,” was Gargamel’s recipe for Smurfette. 

The Smurfs - Macy Parade

The Smurfs at 65 

The 90s began very sombre for the Smurf universe with the death of Peyo in 1992. He left behind a body of work that entertained and delighted millions around the world and continues to do so to this very day. His son Thierry Culliford continues his father’s legacy. 

In 1994 The Smurfs released an album that achieved international success, and in 2011 the modern, 3D iteration of gnomes arrived as The Smurfs movie arrived from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation. This was followed up with The Smurfs 2 in 2013 and Smurfs: The Lost Village in 2017. 

The 21st Century has also seen The Smurfs appear in the Macy’s Parade in New York, 3 theme parks (Dubai, Shanghai and Moscow) as well as an escape room in Zaragoza, Spain.

Are you a Smurfs fan? How will you be celebrating The Smurfs at 65? Let us know in the comments below.