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Children's Show Hosts

Captain Kangaroo -  The host of the classic children's program CAPTAIN KANGAROO/CBS/1955-84.

Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo

Bob Keeshan played the role of Captain Kangaroo, an elderly man with graying mustache and an oversized uniform with big pockets.  

Debuting at 8:00 AM on October 3, 1955, CAPTAIN KANGAROO (according to a CBS advertisement) "recreates the private wonderland of childhood in his Treasure House." The program reigned supreme for 29 years on the CBS network and was the forerunner to such educational programs as MISTEROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD/PBS/1967-2001 and SESAME STREET/ NET/PBS/1969+.

The Captain was assisted by Mr. Green Jeans, (Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum), a talented and inquisitive handyman who came to the Captain's Treasure House with all sorts of interesting items, including animals.

Other residents of the Treasure House were Dennis, the bumbling apprentice (the show's puppeteer, Cosmo "Gus" Allegretti); Dancing Bear, (Cosmo "Gus" Allegretti in a bear suit); the quiet Mr. Whispers; the curious Miss Frog; the wriggling Mr. Worm; the amusing Mr. Bunny Rabbit a hand puppet with black-rimmed glasses who got scolded for stealing carrots from the Captain; Mr. Moose, a brown, antlered puppet who asked knock-knock jokes and poured ping-pong balls over the Captain; and Grandfather Clock, a sleepy-eyed timepiece who talked to the Captain in rhymes.

Cast of the original 'Captain Kangaroo' series

Later in the series, additional human characters appeared including Larry Wall as Mr. Baxter; Debby Weems as Debby; the talents of comedian Bill Cosby (in the 1980s); and John Burstein as Slim Goodbody from Nutri-City, who taught proper health tips. The series also featured THE ADVENTURES OF TOM TERRIFIC, an animated cartoon about a magical boy who could change his form into anything and his sidekick the Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog.

Before his stint on CAPTAIN KANGAROO, Bob Keeshan played the mute Clarabell the Clown on "The Howdy Doody Show" from 1947-52; starred as "Corny the Clown" on the WABC-TV program TIME FOR FUN in 1953 where he narrated 1930s cartoons; and then starred in TINKER'S WORKSHOP, a local New York children's program on WABC-TV (the inspiration for the CAPTAIN KANGAROO program).

During the 1964-65 season, the CAPTAIN KANGAROO show was replaced by MISTER MAYOR, a 60-minute CBS educational series hosted by Bob Keeshan as a mayor of a small town who interacted with such live and puppet community members as Aunt Maud, Dudley, Miss Melissa, and Rolio the Hippopotamus. The following year Bob Keeshan returned to CAPTAIN KANGAROO which then aired on Saturday mornings. The program finally left the air on December, of 1984.

Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo

"It is my contention that most people are not mugged every day, that most people in this world do not encounter violence every day. I think we prepare people for violence, and I think just as importantly we prepare people for the definition of being gentle." - Bob Keeshan

In the 1970s, Bob Keeshan hosted a weekday morning news magazine for older kids on CBS TV called WAKE UP! It featured Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans, Cosmo "Gus" Allegretti as "Dennis", Carolyn Minyoni, as well as the puppets of Kevin Clash and Jim Martin. During the 1980s, Keeshan also hosted and narrated the Saturday morning cartoon series THE CBS STORYBREAK!

On August 21, 1981 CBS broadcast an evening tribute to Bob Keeshan called "Good Evening, Captain" with Barbara Mandrell, Mike Farrell, Lumpy Brannum and Jean Stapleton. In 1987, Bob Keeshan and former Tennessee governor, Lamar Alexander (now a U.S. senator) co-founded Corporate Family Solutions, an organization that provided day-care programs to businesses around the country.

The Captain Kangaroo character returned to TV in 1997 with actor John McDonough as the new Captain Kangaroo for the syndicated revival of the show THE ALL NEW CAPTAIN KANGAROO.

Cast of 'The New Captain Kangaroo'

Sadly, a few years later, Bob Keeshan, the original Captain Kangaroo succumbed to a long illness and died in a hospital in Windsor, Vermont on January 23, 2004. He was 76. Keeshan had moved to Hartford, Vermont in 1990, the same year his wife, Jeanne died. Born June 27, 1927, Bob Edward Keeshan is survived by a son, two daughters and six grandchildren.

Counting flowers on the wall
That don't bother me at all
Playing solitaire 'till dawn
With a deck of fifty-one
Smoking cigarettes and
watching Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothing to do.

-- Flowers on the Wall (sung by The Statler Brothers)

TRIVIA NOTE: Supposedly the persona of Captain Kangaroo was derived from his role as a guard in a museum (which then became "The Treasure House") and because one artist's conception of the character looked like a kangaroo.

Captain Kangaroo Album

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