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    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
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    Dave Koch
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Captain Kangaroo jumps into TV heaven

Discussion in 'In Memoriam...' started by eminovitz, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. eminovitz

    eminovitz Research Guru / Moderator Emeritus

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    Jan 23, 2004

    Though neither a captain nor a kangaroo, Bob Keeshan was beloved by generations of TV-watching children as Captain Kangaroo.

    Now the man with the walrus mustache is no longer with us.

    Keeshan, whose Captain Kangaroo debuted on CBS in 1955 and ran for 30 years before showing up for another six on public TV, died Friday at 76.

    He died of a long illness, his family said in a statement from Quechee, Vermont. His was the longest-running children's network television show of all time.

    Besides entertaining and educating children as his character, Keeshan was the producer of the Terrytoons series The Adventures of Lariat Sam, a series of 13 stories -- each consisting of three five-minute chapters -- which ran on his show beginning in September 1962.

    The cartoons starred idealistic cowboy Lariat Sam, who traveled the West with his derby-wearing horse Tippytoes. Sam refused to carry a gun, using only his trusty lariat to defend those in need. The duo kept the Old West safe from outlaws like Badlands Meeny. (Dayton Allen voiced all three characters.)

    The show also broadcast the Terrytoons series Tom Terrific.

    Keeshan made at least one cartoon appearance himself, guesting as Aesop in Hercules and the Kids, a 1998 episode of Disney's Hercules.

    Captain Kangaroo (the man and the show) was hugely popular among children. The program won six Emmy Awards, three Gabriels and three Peabody Awards.

    With his bowl haircut and uniform coat, Captain Kangaroo would walk each day through his Treasure House, chatting with his friend Mr. Green Jeans (played by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum, who died in 1987).

    The Captain would visit with such puppet animals as Mr. Moose, who loved telling knock-knock jokes, and Bunny Rabbit, who was chided for eating too many carrots.

    But Captain Kangaroo, on whom the show was centered, got his name after 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," said Keeshan, who was only 28 years old when the show began.

    He was born Robert James Keeshan on June 27, 1927 in Lynbrook, Long Island. While still a young man, he served in the United States Marine Corps reserves.

    Keeshan's broadcasting career came early. He started as a page at NBC, first appearing on-air as the original “Clarabell the Clown” for NBC's Howdy Doody Show.

    As "Corny the Clown," Keeshan was the first host/performer of WJZ/WABC-TV's Time For Fun/The Johnny Jellybean Show, broadcast in New York weekdays at noon from September 21, 1953 to July 29, 1955. He was the co-creator, co-producer and host of Tinker's Workshop with Jack Miller on WJZ/WABC weekday mornings from November 15, 1954 to September 9, 1955.

    Captain Kangaroo debuted on CBS on October 3, 1955. During the show's 1964 run, Keeshan also took on the guise of "Mister Mayor" on Saturday mornings for a year, but always stayed the Captain until the show ended in 1993. He also hosted CBS Storybreak in 1985.

    Elected to the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Clown Hall of Fame, Keeshan published Growing Up Happy in 1989. In October 1996, he published Good Morning Captain: 50 Wonderful Years with Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo.

    Keeshan also wrote the Itty Bitty Kitty children's book series.

    He was married to Anne Jeanne Laurie from 1950 until her death in 1995. They had two daughters, Laurie and Mave, and a son, Michael.


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