Captain Kangaroo - A Children's Television Show
Captain Kangaroo - Favorite Children's TV Show for 30 Years
If you were a child between 1955 and 1984, you more than likely watched Captain Kangaroo on morning television. For 30 years, generations of youngsters across America woke up on school days and were entertained by the "Captain" and his friends while getting ready to head out the door to school.
Captain Kangaroo and Friends
The star of the show was the character Captain Kangaroo, the grandfatherly gentleman named after the big pockets in his jacket. Played by Bob Keeshan, children and adults alike adored the jolly man. His sidekick was Mister Green Jeans, appropriately dressed in overalls and a farmers hat, portrayed by Hugh Brannum. Watchers loved the puppets and their silly antics, especially Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose and there was even a talking grandfather clock! Bill Cosby and Dr. Joyce Brothers both had recurring roles portraying themselves.
The list of guest stars appearing on Captain Kangaroo reads like a "who's who" list of performers from the time period. Celebrities such as Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Lorne Greene, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in their Star Trek costumes, Pearl Bailey, Andy Williams and even Dolly Parton were visitors to the set.
Many Changes in Captain Kangaroo Show
CBS executives evidently weren't aware of the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" After many successful years, the network changed much of the format of the show such as changing the name of the Captain's house from the Treasure House to the Captain's Place. The theme song was changed a few times and even the color of Captain Kangaroo's jacket with the big pockets was changed from blue to red. The time slot for the program was changed several times, even airing it as early as 6:30 am. When the length of the show was decreased to a half hour, Bob Keeshan had enough. It was a slap in the face for the three time Emmy award winner. Keeshan refused to renew his contract when it expired in 1984 and CBS cancelled the show.
Bob Keeshan Memoirs from Amazon
Bob Keeshan Before He Became Captain Kangaroo
As early as 1945, Bob Keeshan had a claim to fame in the area of children's television programming. One of the earliest programs aimed at younger viewers was the Howdy Doody Show on NBC. Keeshan played the popular character, Clarabell the Clown.
Life After Captain Kangaroo for Bob Keeshan
Keeshan moved to Norwich, Vermont and spent the rest of his years doing what he did best ... working for the well being of children. He was a strong advocate against video game violence. He worked with parent groups that were protesting the violent nature of some of the cartoons of the time. Keeshan received an honorary doctorate degree from Middlebury College for his work surrounding children's literacy.
He passed away in 2004 at the age of 76. But not before writing several children's books as well as his memoirs, Good Morning, Captain.
In keeping with his persona as a kindly and lovable grandfather, he would normally end his Captain Kangaroo programs by encouraging parents to spend quality time with their children each day. Millions of adults today remember fondly the quality time they enjoyed each morning with the Captain.
Did You Know ...
Bob Keeshan was only 28 years old when the show first aired in 1955. He had to be heavily made up to appear as the grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo!
© 2015 Thelma Raker Coffone
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