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Bob Keeshan passes away

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TV's 'Captain Kangaroo,' Bob Keeshan, dead

(CNN) -- Television's Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan, died Friday morning in Vermont, a family friend told CNN.

"Captain Kangaroo," a children's show, featured the walrus-mustached, bowl-haircut Keeshan entertaining youngsters with his gentle, whimsical humor. Among the show's other characters were Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Moose and Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum).

The show ran on CBS from 1955 to 1985, and then moved to public television for six more years.

Shows were frequently interrupted with silliness, such as hundreds of ping-pong balls dropping from the ceiling or Mr. Moose's knock-knock jokes, but the mainstay was Keeshan, who chatted with Brannum and told stories.

Edited by Chrome

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Two points spring to mind:

---For several generations, the Captain was in the morning what Johnny Carson was to become in the evening. Always there, always dependable, a comfortable reassurance.

---CBS' morning ratings have NEVER recovered from their cancellation of "Captain Kangaroo".

For the last week or so, I've had "Alfred The Airsick Eagle" running through my mind for some unfathonable reason. Now, it kinda makes sense, I guess...

"Stone Soup", anybody? "Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel"? What's goin' on down at the Grange?

I'm getting older every fucking second.

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Tom Terrific...

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I was actually more of a Romper Room kid but I certainly remember the Captain. RIP.

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He and Andy Devine are among my earliest TV memories. RIP Captain.

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For the last week or so, I've had "Alfred The Airsick Eagle" running through my mind for some unfathonable reason. Now, it kinda makes sense, I guess...

"Stone Soup", anybody? "Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel"? What's goin' on down at the Grange?

Yes, plus "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Angus McFergus McTavish Dundee" -- and those gloved hands making the pingpong balls disappear, reappear, multiply...

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The older I get, the more often I have this reaction to news like this:

My god; he was still alive??? :huh:

The Captain was definitely my earliest television memory. Though Mom didn't care too much for his idea of making a drum set out of pots and spoons...

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They both got screwed by Peter Littman?

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For geezers-in-waiting only:

The news of the Captain's passing upset me so much that I tried to stab myself this afternoon.

But all I had in the house was round-edged scissors...

Edited by JSngry

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...those gloved hands making the pingpong balls disappear, reappear, multiply...

Yeah, was that freaky or WHAT?

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cards-kangaroo.JPG

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BOB KEESHAN Born in New York City, New York, U.S.A., 27 June 1927. Attended Fordham University, 1946-49. Served in United States Marine Corps Reserve, 1945-46. Married: Anne Jeanne Laurie, 1950; children: Michael Derek, Laurie Margaret, and Maeve Jeanne. Began career as Clarabell for NBC-TV's Howdy Doody Show, 1947-52; appeared as Corny the Clown (ABC-TV), 1953-55, and Tinker the Toymaker (ABC-TV), 1954-55; starred as Captain Kangaroo (CBS-TV), 1955-85; president of Robert Keeshan Associates, from 1955; appeared as Mr. Mayor and the Town Clown (CBS-TV), 1964-65; president, Suffolk County Hearing and Speech Center, 1966-71; director of Marvin Josephson Associates, Inc, New York., 1969-77; director of Bank of Babylon, New York, 1973-79; chair, board of trustees, College of New Rochelle, New York, 1974-80; director of Anchor Savings Bank, 1976-91; chair, Council of Governing Boards, 1979-80; commentator, CBS-Radio, 1980-82; television commentator, 1981-82. Member: Board of Education, West Islip, New York, 1953-58; board of directors, Good Samaritan Hospital, West Islip, New York, 1969-78. Honorary Degrees: D. of Pedagogy, Rhode Island College, 1969; D.H.L. Alfred University, 1969; D.F.A., Fordham University, 1975; Litt.D., Indiana State University, 1978; L.L.D., Elmira (New York) University, 1980; D.L., Marquette University, 1983; D.P.S., Central Michigan University, 1984; D.H.L., St. Joseph College, 1987. Honorary Fellow: American Academy of Pediatrics. Recipient: Sylvania Award, 1956; Peabody Award, 1958, 1972, 1979; American Education Award, Education Industries Association, 1978; Distinguished Achievement Award, Georgia Radio and TV Institute-Pi Gamma Kappa, 1978; Emmy Awards,1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984; TV Father of the Year, 1980; James E. Allen Memorial Award, 1981; Distinguished Service to Children Award, 1981; National Education Award, 1982; American Heart Association National Public Affairs Recognition Award, 1987; Frances Holleman Breathitt Award for Excellence, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 1987; Clown Hall of Fame, 1990; AMA Distinguished Service Award, 1991.

TELEVISION SERIES

1947-52 The Howdy Doody Show

1953-55 Time for Fun

1954-55 Tinker's Workshop (also produced)

1955-85 Captain Kangaroo (also produced)

1964-65 Mr. Mayor (also producer)

1981-82 Up to the Minute, CBS News (commentator) 1982 CBS Morning News (commentator)

Bob Keeshan is the actor and producer responsible for the success of the long-running children's program, Captain Kangaroo. As the easy-going Captain with his big pockets and his bushy mustache, Keeshan lured children into close engagement with literature, science, and especially music, adopting an approach which mixed pleasure and pedagogy. Children learned most easily, he argued, when information and knowledge became a source of delight. Keeshan's approach represented a rejection of pressures towards the increased commercialization of children's programming as well as a toning-down of the high volume, slapstick style associated with earlier kid show hosts, such as Pinky Lee, Soupy Sales and Howdy Doody's Buffalo Bob.

Keeshan was working as a receptionist at NBC-Radio's Manhattan office when Bob Smith started offering him small acting parts on his NBC-TV show, Triple B Ranch, and then, subsequently, hired him as a special assistant for The Howdy Doody Show. Though Keeshan's initial responsibilities involved supervising props and talking to the children who were to be program guests, he was soon pulled on camera, bringing out prizes. After appearing in clown garb on one episode to immense response, he took on the regular role of Clarabell, the mute clown who communicated by honking a horn. Leaving the series in 1952, he played a succession of other clown characters, such as Corny, the host of WABC-TV's Time For Fun, a noontime cartoon program, where he exerted pressure to remove from airplay cartoons he felt were too violent or perpetuated racial stereotyping. While at WABC-TV, he played an Alpine toymaker on Tinker's Workshop, an early morning program, which served as the prototype for Captain Kangaroo.

The CBS network was searching for innovative new approaches to children's programming and approved the Kangaroo series submitted by Keeshan and long-time friend Jack Miller. The series first aired in October 1955 and continued until 1985, making it the longest running children's series in network history. Keeshan not only vividly embodied the Captain, the friendly host of the Treasure House, but also played a central creative role on the daily series, supervising and actively contributing to the scripts and insuring the program's conformity to his conceptions of appropriate children's entertainment. Through encounters with Mr. Green Jeans and his menagerie of domestic animals, with the poetry-creating Grandfather Clock, the greedy Bunny Rabbit, the punning trickster Mr. Moose, and the musically-inclined Dancing Bear, the Captain opened several generations of children to the pleasures of learning. Unlike many other children's programs, Captain Kangaroo was not filmed before a studio audience and did not include children in its cast. Keeshan wanted nothing that would come between him and the children in his television audience and so spoke directly to the camera. He also personally supervised which commercials could air on the program, and promoted products, such as Play-Dough and Etch-a-Sketch, which he saw as facilitating creative play, while avoiding those he felt purely exploitative.

As his program's popularity grew, Keeshan took on an increasingly public role as an advocate for children, writing a regular column about children and television for McCall's and occasional articles for Good Housekeeping, Parade, and other publications. Keeshan wrote original children's books (as well as those tied to the Kangaroo program) and recorded a series of records designed to introduce children to classical and jazz music. He appeared at "tiny tot" concerts given by symphony orchestras in more than 50 cities, offering playful introductions to the musical instruments and the pleasure of good listening.

Upon his retirement, Keeshan became an active lobbyist on behalf of children's issues and in favor of tighter controls over the tobacco industry. A sharp critic of contemporary children's television, Keeshan is currently making efforts to get a new version of Captain Kangaroo onto the air, but since he does not own the rights to the character, there is some possibility that the captain may be recast.

-Henry Jenkins http://www.angelfire.com/hi/luckypuppy2840/oddfacts.html

This was a good man. R.I.P.

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With a 1957 birthdate, I was a Captain Kangaroo devotee have lots of fond memories of the show. Reading the article brought a smile to my face. Thanks for posting that.

Edited by Ed Swinnich

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Dude, did you know that Mr. Greenjeans was Frank Zappa's father? :lol:

(well , that was the rumour when i was about 10).

I always dug Dancing Bear.

RIP Captain Kangaroo.

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The older I get, the more often I have this reaction to news like this:

My god; he was still alive??? :huh:

Indeed, I had much the same reaction, both to the news of Bob Keeshan's passing and of Jack Paar's. No reflection on them as individuals, you understand, I'd just subconsciously assumed that they'd shuffled off this mortal coil some years ago.

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