The Captain Kangaroo Children’s Show:
Captain Kangaroo was an American children's television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS from October 3, 1955, until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day. In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series on PBS until 1993.
The show was conceived and the title character was played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children".
Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show when it aired on NBC. Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" where the Captain (the name "kangaroo" came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. Keeshan performed as the Captain more than 9,000 times over the nearly 30-year run of the show.
The show was on the air for 29 years, making it one of the longest-running network children's program series. Sesame Street, which still airs, holds the record at 50 years and counting. Several of the original Sesame Street writers and producers were former members of the Captain Kangaroo staff, and were hired by Children's Television Workshop to help write, produce and direct the new program when it went on the air in 1969.
The original director of the program was Peter Birch, who helmed the program for its first 25 years. Producer Jimmy Hirschfeld took over as director following Birch's heart attack in 1980 and continued directing, as well as producing throughout the rest of the show's run, including the new segments inserted into the PBS reruns, until it went off the air in 1993.
The cast of Captain Kangaroo also hosted the CBS coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for several years in the 1960s.
The May 17, 1971, episode had two major changes on the show: The Treasure House was renovated and renamed "The Captain's Place" and the Captain replaced his navy blue coat with a red coat. In September 1981, CBS shortened the hour-long show to a half-hour, briefly retitled it “ Wake Up with the Captain", and moved it to an earlier time slot; it was moved to weekends in September 1982, and returned to an hour-long format.
Captain Kangaroo was canceled by CBS at the end of 1984.
After its creator and star, Bob Keeshan, died in 2004, his estate donated a few of his beloved hand puppets to the Smithsonian. The estate of Captain Kangaroo actor Bob Keeshan went up for auction on May 21, 2013 in Los Angeles.
In 2011, the trademark for Captain Kangaroo was acquired by the Cashin Comedy Co. In a blog, the Captain is portrayed by Pat Cashin, an entertainer and professional clown. Cashin died in 2016 at the age of 48, leaving the rights to the character with his estate.
In May 2018, Mark Wahlberg told Ellen DeGeneres that he wanted to bring back Captain Kangaroo, with the host being a scientist. He wanted to help his own children develop an interest in science, technology and engineering.
Bob Keeshan Bio:
Robert James Keeshan (June 27, 1927 – January 23, 2004) was an American television producer and actor. He created and played the title role in the children's television program Captain Kangaroo, which ran from 1955 to 1984, the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day.
Keeshan also played the original Clarabell the Clown on the Howdy Doody television program.
Network television programs began shortly after the end of the war. Howdy Doody, an early show which premiered in 1947 on NBC, was one of the first. Debuting on January 3, 1948, Keeshan played Clarabell the Clown, a silent Auguste clown who communicated by honking several horns attached to a belt around his waist. One horn meant "yes"; two meant "no". Clarabell often sprayed Buffalo Bob Smith with a seltzer bottle and played practical jokes. Keeshan gave up the role in 1952, and was replaced.
By September 21, 1953, Keeshan came back to local TV on WABC-TV, Channel 7 in New York City, in a new children's show, Time for Fun. He played Corny the Clown, and this time he spoke. Later that same year, in addition to Time for Fun, Keeshan began Tinker's Workshop, a program aimed at preschoolers, with him playing the grandfather-like Tinker.
Developing ideas from Tinker's Workshop, Keeshan and his long-time friend Jack Miller submitted the concept of Captain Kangaroo to the CBS network, which was looking for innovative approaches to children's television programming. CBS approved the show, and Keeshan starred as the title character when it premiered on CBS on October 3, 1955. Keeshan described his character as based on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." The show was an immediate success, and he served as its host for nearly three decades.
Recurring characters included his sidekick (and fan favorite) Mr. Green Jeans (played by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum), Dennis (played by Cosmo Allegretti), and puppets such as Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose.
The New York Times commented: "Captain Kangaroo, a round-faced, pleasant, mustachioed man possessed of an unshakable calm ... was one of the most enduring characters television ever produced."