Bob Keeshan, who gently entertained and educated generations of children as television’s walrus-mustachioed Captain Kangaroo was born on June 27th 1927, in Lynbrook, New York.
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.
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. A favorite sketch involved Mister Moose dropping Ping-Pong balls on the Captain’s head.
Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name, Allen Jackson of that famous episode of Mr. Moose dropping a 100 ping pongs balls coming down on Captain Kangaroo’s head.
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.
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.
“Captain Kangaroo” debuted on Oct. 3, 1955. After the PBS show ended in 1992, he continued to play the role for a time in videos and public appearances.
Keeshan suffered a severe heart attack on July 13, 1981, which pushed the start of a revamped version of his show back to at least mid-August. Keeshan suffered the heart attack just moments after stepping off a plane at Toronto International Airport. He had come to the city to accept a children’s service award.
Keeshan underwent triple-bypass surgery and received an estimated 5,000 get-well wishes from fans.
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.
Keeshan lived on Melbury Road in Babylon Village, Long Island, New York before moving to spend the last 14 years of his life in Norwich, Vermont.
Keeshan died in Windsor, Vermont, on January 23, 2004 at age 76. He was survived by three children, Michael Derek, Laurie Margaret, and Maeve Jeanne. His wife of 45 years, Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan, died February 25, 1996.
Keeshan’s grandson, Britton Keeshan, became the youngest person at that time to have climbed the Seven Summits by climbing Mount Everest in May 2004. He carried photographs of his grandfather on that ascent, and buried a photo of the two of them at the summit.
I was aviate watcher of Captain Kangaroo show, and I wish there were more televisions shows like that on the air today.
In lieu of today’s story, as wish Captain Kangaroo a BIG howdy do on his birthday!
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell