Did You Watch Captain Kangaroo?

Before Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, before Sesame Street, there was Captain Kangaroo.

English: Publicity photo of Bob Keeshan as Cap...

Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain Kangaroo first aired on October 3, 1945 and ran until December 8, 1984.

Captain Kangaroo, played by Bob Keeshan, is still the longest-running children’s series on commercial television, though it was eventually passed on all television by Sesame Street, on PBS.

The cast included Mr. Green Jeans and Banana Man.

The show had characters like Mr. Whispers, Mr. Rabbit, Dancing Bear, and Mr. Moose.

Watch an episode here with Mr. Moose,

Bob Keeshan, the show’s creator, based it on “the warm relationship between grandparents and children.”

Boomers will recall the opening theme, which you can listen to here, the opening theme of Captain Kangaroo.

Why was he called Captain Kangaroo? He had oversized pockets in his jacket.

The show was broadcast in black-and-white until 1966.

My family always had a black-and-white television.

A few years after we got married, my Dad asked if we wanted their broken tv for the cost of whatever it took to fix it.

It turned out it needed a 25-cent part.

But, my Dad said he was tired of waiting for it to break so he could get a color tv and he was glad to have an excuse to give it to us.

Who Visited the Captain Kangaroo Show?

Captain Kangaroo had frequent visitors, like Shari Lewis and her puppet, Lamb Chop.

He had regular guests, like Bill Cosby and Dr. Joyce Brothers.

He had a host of other comedians and celebrities come through, from Carol Channing to Minnie Pearl, from Rosie Grier to The Smothers Brothers.

He had singers, from Andy Williams to John Denver.

He had cartoons. Remember Tom Terrific, with Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog?

He read us stories, like Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, Stone Soup and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, children’s stories that are still beloved more than fifty years later.

He sang us songs, like the Green Grass Grew All Around, and There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.

Keeshan fought, with mixed success, to separate his sponsor’s commercials from his program content.

He eventually spoke out against violence in children’s video games.

He started out wearing make-up to make him look old, and ended up wearing make-up to make him look young.

Boomers will best remember him as our fun, gentle entertainer on Saturday mornings.

As parents, we can now better appreciate the quality children’s programming he brought into our homes.

As grandparents, we are Captain Kangaroo.

Happy Anniversary, Captain Kangaroo.

What character do you remember best on Captain Kangaroo?

Did you know that Bob Keeshan was the original Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody?

Have your grandchildren ever seen reruns of Captain Kangaroo?

To you and creating that “warm relationship between grandparents and children.”


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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