View Full Version : Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, Dies at 76

01-23-2004, 02:30 PM
Wow, earlier this week it was childrens entertainer Ray Rayner (A Chicago area personality) , and now the Good Captain himself. :cry:


Bob Keeshan, who gently entertained and educated generations of children as television's walrus-mustachioed Captain Kangaroo, died Friday at 76.

Keeshan, who lived in Hartford, Vt., died of a long illness, his family said in a statement.

Keeshan's "Captain Kangaroo" premiered on CBS in 1955 and ran for 30 years before moving to public television for six more. It was wildly popular among children and won six Emmy Awards, three Gabriels and three Peabody Awards.

The format was simple: Each day, Captain Kangaroo, with his sugar-bowl haircut and uniform coat, would wander through his Treasure House, chatting with his good friend Mr. Green Jeans, played by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum.

He would visit with puppet animals, like Bunny Rabbit, who was scolded for eating too many carrots, and Mr. Moose, who loved to tell knock-knock jokes.

But the show revolved about the grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo, whose name was inspired by the kangaroo pouch-like pockets of the coat Keeshan wore.

"I was impressed with the potential positive relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, so I chose an elderly character," Keeshan said.

In a statement issued by his son Michael, Keeshan's family said: "Our father, grandfather and friend was as passionate for his family as he was for America's children. He was largely a private man living an often public life as an advocate for all that our nation's children deserve."

Keeshan, born in Lynbrook, N.Y., became a page at NBC while he was in high school. He joined the Marine Corps in 1945.

(AP) Bob Keeshan, a.k.a. Captain Kangaroo, gestures during his keynote address to the 5th annual Early...
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His first television appearance came in 1948, when he played the voiceless, horn-honking Clarabell the Clown on the "Howdy Doody Show," a role he created and played for five years.

Later he played Corny the clown, the host of a noontime cartoon program in New York City.

"Captain Kangaroo" debuted on Oct. 3, 1955, and Keeshan remained in that role until 1993.

Keeshan, who moved to Vermont in 1990, remained active as a children's advocate, writing books, lecturing and lobbying on behalf of children's issues.

He was critical of today's TV programs for children, saying they were too full of violence. And he spoke wherever he went about the importance of good parenting.

(AP) Bob Keeshan, best known as Captain Kangaroo, reacts as he gets teary eyed after being inducted into...
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"Parents are the ultimate role models for children," he said. "Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent."

When Fred Rogers, the gentle host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," died last year, Keeshan recalled how they often spoke about the state of children's programming.

"I don't think it's any secret that Fred and I were not very happy with the way children's television had gone," Keeshan said.

In 1987, Keeshan and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander co-founded Corporate Family Solutions, an organization that provided day-care programs to businesses around the country.

Keeshan believed children learn more in the first six years of life than at any other time and was a strong advocate of day care that provides emotional, physical and intellectual development for children.

"Play is the work of children. It's very serious stuff. And if it's properly structured in a developmental program, children can blossom," he said.

Keeshan's wife, Jeanne, died in 1990. He had three children.

Exhaust Port
01-23-2004, 07:53 PM
My dad just told me that Mr. Keeshan lived in his childhood neighborhood growing up in Islip, NY out on Long Island. Kids would go over to his house all the time (including my aunt) asking to see Captain Kangaroo. "No, Captain Kangaroo isn't here" was the response everytime I guess. He eventually moved out of the town. :)

He did a segment about a local steam engine operation that my dad worked on in the 1980's. I still remember having my parents wake me up early in the morning to bring in a small portable TV into my room so I could watch the show and see if my dad was anywhere to be seen. I remember briefly seeing his head along the bottom of the screen during one shot and that was it. It was short but I distinctly remember watching that episode. :D

01-24-2004, 03:19 AM
Well, that'd pretty much be the end of my childhood I suppose. First Jim Henson over a decade ago, then Fred Rogers last year and now Bob Keeshan.

I wish someone would play those old Captain Kangaroo shows. It's just too hard to explain what they were like to my son... really brilliant. (Sigh.) I swear, every time that moose dropped those ping-pong balls on the Captain it drove me nuts.

01-24-2004, 03:25 AM
I just saw this when I signed on, and looked at my homepage. Rip Captain.

01-25-2004, 09:16 AM
Yea I miss him and Mr. Green Jeans playing cotton ball soccer.......:(