Bob Keeshan (1927 - 2004) was Captain Kangaroo. Keeshan helped develop the character and the show Captain Kangaroo, which debuted on CBS television in 1955. It ran until 1992. A children's program, Captain Kangaroo featured Keeshan as the grandfatherly Captain from 1955 until 1985. The program promoted learning through entertainment.
Different from other shows of the time
Captain Kangaroo stood out from other children's programming, as it did not include a live studio audience. In addition, it did not feature any children in the cast. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, this was a concept of Bob Keeshan's. He wanted to be able to focus each episode directly to the child on the other side of the television screen. His creative approach allowed viewers to become more engaged with the show's skits and segments, each geared as entertaining but educational moments.
The characters of Captain Kangaroo
The Captain lived in Treasure House. He had many friends, including Mr. Green Jeans played by Hugh Brannum. Nicknamed Lumpy, Brannum played Captain Kangaroo's buddy Mr. Green Jeans from 1955 until 1984. His name on the show derived from the green farmer overalls he wore. Mr. Green Jeans was an outdoor enthusiast, always sharing his knowledge of animals with the Captain and often sharing the cute critters with the television audience. Brannum also portrayed Greeno the Clown, Mr. Bainter the Painter, The Professor and the Old Folk Singer.
Other characters on the show included both humans and puppets such as Dennis the Painter, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Moose, Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock, Dancing Bear, The Banana Man, Slim Goodbody, Debbie and others. Actors such as Cosmo Allegretti portrayed more than one puppet character. Allegretti was the voice for Mr. Moose, Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock and Dancing Bear, among others.
Special guest stars
Captain Kangaroo had several special guest stars throughout the years. As an award-winning children's show, it was not uncommon for popular stars and celebrities to appear in an episode, much like Sesame Street's famous guest stars throughout the years. Special guest stars on Captain Kangaroo have included singer/actress Dolly Parton, puppeteer/comedian Shari Lewis, baseball great Hank Aaron, football player/actor Frank Gifford, director/actress Penny Marshall and children's television host Mr. Rogers.
Awards through the years
Captain Kangaroo won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series for the years 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984. It also was nominated for six Emmy Awards from 1960 through 1969. It won two Peabody Awards, the first in 1958 and the second in 1973.
The Captain: beyond Captain Kangaroo
Before Bob Keeshan began his career in television as the character Clarabell on the Howdy Doody Show, he served as a Marine. He featured on the Howdy Doody Show, Time for Fun and Tinker's Workshop before Captain Kangaroo. In addition to his work on television, the college-educated Keeshan was a children's advocate and served on numerous boards, including the Good Samaritan Hospital Board in New York. He worked in radio and wrote several books for parents and kids. These include "Hurry, Murry, Hurry" and "Alligator in the Basement."
The All New Captain Kangaroo ran in 1997. Bob Keeshan did not appear in any of the new series episodes.