Captain Kangaroo
Captain Kangaroo is a children's television series
Children's television series
Children's television series, are commercial television programs designed for, and marketed to children, normally scheduled for broadcast during the morning and afternoon when children are awake. They can sometimes run in the early evening, for the children that go to school...

 which aired weekday mornings on the American television network
Television network
A television network is a telecommunications network for distribution of television program content, whereby a central operation provides programming to many television stations or pay TV providers. Until the mid-1980s, television programming in most countries of the world was dominated by a small...

CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 for nearly 30 years, from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running children's television program of its day. In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television
American Public Television
American Public Television is the largest syndicator of programming for public television stations in the United States.-History:...

, Boston) integrated some newly-produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series until 1993.

The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan
Bob Keeshan
Robert James "Bob" Keeshan was an American television producer and actor. He is most notable as the title character of the children's television program Captain Kangaroo, which became an icon for millions of people during its 30-year run from 1955 to 1984.Keeshan also played the original...

, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown
Clarabell the Clown
Clarabell the Clown was the mute partner of Howdy Doody.Three actors played Clarabell. The first was Bob Keeshan, who later became Captain Kangaroo. Keeshan was succeeded by Robert "Nick" Nicholson, who also played the character of J. Cornelius Cobb on The Howdy Doody Show. Lew Anderson was the...

 on The Howdy Doody
Howdy Doody
Howdy Doody is an American children's television program that was created and produced by E. Roger Muir and telecast on NBC in the United States from 1947 until 1960. It was a pioneer in children's television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows...

when it aired on NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...


Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" where the Captain (whose name 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. The show was telecast live to the East Coast and the Midwest for its first four years (and broadcast on kinescope for the West Coast, as Keeshan would not perform the show live three times a day) and was in black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 until 1968. The May 17, 1971 episode saw two major changes on the show: The Treasure House was renovated and renamed "The Captain's Place" and the Captain replaced his black 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 later moved to weekends in September 1982, and returned to an hour-long format. It was canceled by CBS at the end of 1984. The series ran for so long that at the beginning, Keeshan was made up to look older to suit the character but by the end, he wore make-up in order to look younger.

In 1997–1998, a sequel revival series tenitatively titled The All New Captain Kangaroo was attempted by Saban Entertainment. John McDonough
John McDonough
John J. McDonough was a politician and businessman from Georgia, USA.-Background:He was the son of an Irish-born immigrant. He received his education in Atlanta's public schools and graduated from the St. Francis Xavier College in New York City...

 played the Captain. It was shot in Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Tampa is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It serves as the county seat for Hillsborough County. Tampa is located on the west coast of Florida. The population of Tampa in 2010 was 335,709....

. Keeshan was invited to appear as a special guest called "The Admiral," but after seeing sample episodes, he declined to appear or have any association with the new incarnation. It ran for one season and inspired a spin-off show, Mister Moose's Fun Time.


  • Bob Keeshan
    Bob Keeshan
    Robert James "Bob" Keeshan was an American television producer and actor. He is most notable as the title character of the children's television program Captain Kangaroo, which became an icon for millions of people during its 30-year run from 1955 to 1984.Keeshan also played the original...

     as Captain Kangaroo and The Town Clown
  • Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum
    Hugh Brannum
    Hugh Brannum was an American vocalist, arranger, composer and actor best known for his role as "Mr. Green Jeans" on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo. During his days with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, he used his childhood nickname "Lumpy."-Early life:Brannum was born in...

     as Mr. Green Jeans, the New Old Folk Singer, Percy, Uncle Backwards, Mr. McGregor, and Mr. Bainter the Painter
  • Cosmo Allegretti as Mr. Bunny Rabbit
    Mr. Bunny Rabbit
    Mr. Bunny Rabbit was a puppet character on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo. Mr. Bunny Rabbit wore horn-rimmed glasses, and would trick the Captain into giving him his carrots. Mr. Bunny Rabbit was created and manipulated by Cosmo Allegretti....

     and Mr. Moose
    Mr. Moose
    Mr. Moose was a puppet character on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo.He would tell riddles and knock-knock jokes that would result in hundreds of ping pong balls falling from above, and hitting the Captain on the head. Mr. Moose was created and played by Cosmo Allegretti, who also...

     (both of which he also created), Dennis the Apprentice, Miss Frog, Mr. Whispers, Dancing Bear, Grandfather Clock, Uncle Ralph, was the voice of Aniforms puppet TV Fred (a live-action on-screen puppet that appeared behind the blackboard in the Treasure House), and was the artist behind the Magic Drawing Board.

  • Sam Levine as the The Banana Man; the character was created by Adolph Proper (1886–1950).
  • Bill Cosby
    Bill Cosby
    William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the...

     as himself, the host of the Picture Pages
    Picture Pages
    "Picture Pages" is an educational television segment aimed at preschool children, teaching lessons on basic arithmetic, geometry, and drawing through a series of interactive lessons that used a workbook that viewers would follow along with the lesson....

    segment (1980–1984)
  • Debbie Weems
    Debbie Weems
    Deborah "Debbie" Weems was an American actress and singer. She is best remembered for her recurring roles on Captain Kangaroo.-Early life:...

     as Debbie (1973–1977) and provided the voice for the puppet character Baby Duck
  • James Wall
    James Wall (actor)
    James Earl "Jimmy" Wall was an American stage manager and actor.Having performed on radio, theater, and in the Army during World War II, Wall worked as a stage manager on Broadway before being hired as the stage manager for the children's television series Captain Kangaroo by CBS in 1962...

     as Mr. Baxter (1968–1978)
  • Carolyn Mignini as Kathy and other female roles (1981–1993)
  • Kevin Clash
    Kevin Clash
    Kevin Jeffrey Clash is an American puppeteer and voice actor whose characters include Elmo, Baby Sinclair, Clifford, Splinter and Hoots the Owl...

     as the puppet character Artie (1980–1984) and as himself and acted in many of the sketches
  • John Burstein as Slim Goodbody
    Slim Goodbody
    Slim Goodbody is a fictional character created and performed by John Burstein. Slim is a human adult who wears a flesh-colored unitard with various tissues, organs and organ systems painted on the front in biologically-accurate locations and sizes. Burstein created the character in 1975...

  • Bill McCutcheon
    Bill McCutcheon
    James William McCutcheon was an American character actor known for his roles in film, television, and theatre, several of which won him Emmy and Tony awards....

     as Mr. Homan (1965–1966)

Special guests

Among the special guests who made periodic appearances were ventriloquist Shari Lewis
Shari Lewis
Shari Lewis was an American ventriloquist, puppeteer, and children's television show host, most popular during the 1960s and 1990s...

 and Lamb Chop
Lamb Chop (puppet)
Lamb Chop is a sock puppet sheep created by comedian and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. In 1957, Lamb Chop, a ewe, first appeared with Lewis on Hi Mom, a local morning show that aired on WNBC in New York....

; Mister Rogers (Fred Rogers), who appeared in a 1975 episode, where he and the Captain try to restore an old gramophone
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

. Comediennes Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers is an American comedian, television personality and actress. She is known for her brash manner; her loud, raspy voice with a heavy New York accent; and her numerous cosmetic surgeries...

, Imogene Coca
Imogene Coca
Imogene Fernandez de Coca was an American comic actress best known for her role opposite Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows....

, Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller is an American actress and comedian. She created a stage persona of a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who makes jokes about a husband named "Fang" while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder...

, Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae is a prolific American character actress of stage, comedienne, singer and dancer, who in her six decades of television is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life...

, Ruth Buzzi
Ruth Buzzi
Ruth Ann Buzzi is an American comedienne and actress of theatre, film, and television. She is especially known for her performances on the comedy-variety show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973.-Early life:...

, and Minnie Pearl
Minnie Pearl
Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon , known professionally as Minnie Pearl, was an American country comedienne who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years and on the television show Hee Haw from 1969 to 1991.-Early life:Sarah Colley was born in Centerville, in Hickman County, Tennessee,...

 made guest appearances, as did opera star Roberta Peters
Roberta Peters
Roberta Peters is an American coloratura soprano.One of the most prominent American singers to achieve lasting fame and success in opera, Peters is noted for her 35-year association with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York...

, talk show host Phil Donahue
Phil Donahue
Phillip John "Phil" Donahue is an American media personality, writer, and film producer best known as the creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show. The television program, also known as Donahue, was the first to use a talk show format. The show had a 26-year run on U.S...

 (in 1978), Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas
Margaret Julia “Marlo” Thomas is an American actress, producer, and social activist known for her starring role on the TV series That Girl . She also serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital...

, actor and folk singer Theodore Bikel
Theodore Bikel
Theodore Meir Bikel is a character actor, folk singer and musician. He made his film debut in The African Queen and was nominated for an Academy award for his supporting role as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones ....

, game show host Bill Cullen
Bill Cullen
William Lawrence Francis "Bill" Cullen was an American radio and television personality whose career spanned five decades...

, singers Pearl Bailey
Pearl Bailey
Pearl Mae Bailey was an American actress and singer. After appearing in vaudeville, she made her Broadway debut in St. Louis Woman in 1946. She won a Tony Award for the title role in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968...

 (several appearances), Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music. Dolly Parton has appeared in movies like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias and Straight Talk...

, and John Denver
John Denver
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. , known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer/songwriter, activist, and humanitarian. After growing up in numerous locations with his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. His greatest commercial success...

 and Television performers Penny Marshall
Penny Marshall
Penny Marshall is an American actress, producer and director.After playing several small roles for television, she was cast as Laverne DeFazio in the sitcom Laverne and Shirley...

, Cindy Williams
Cindy Williams
Cynthia Jane "Cindy" Williams is an American actress best known for starring in the television situation-comedy series Laverne & Shirley, in the role of "Shirley Feeney", and for her role as Laurie Henderson in the classic film American Graffiti.-Early life:Williams was born in Van Nuys,...

, Lorne Greene
Lorne Greene
Lorne Greene , was the stage name of Lyon Himan Green, OC, a Canadian actor.His television roles include Ben Cartwright on the western Bonanza, and Commander Adama in the science fiction movie and subsequent TV Series Battlestar Galactica...

, Bonnie Franklin
Bonnie Franklin
Bonnie Gail Franklin is an American actress, best known for her starring role in the television series One Day at a Time.-Personal life:...

, Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith
Andy Samuel Griffith is an American actor, director, producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and writer. He gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's epic film A Face in the Crowd before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead...

, The Smothers Brothers, Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress. She is the only Hispanic and one of the few performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, and was the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award....

, Arte Johnson
Arte Johnson
Arthur Stanton Eric "Arte" Johnson is an American comic actor. Johnson was a regular on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. His best-remembered "character" was that of a German soldier with the catchphrase: "Verrrry interesting, but...['stupid', 'not very funny', and other variations]".-Early life:Johnson...

, Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg
Patricia Neal , known professionally as Fannie Flagg, is an American actress, comedienne and author. She is perhaps best-known for the 1988 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes; Flagg was nominated for an Academy Award for...

, Gale Gordon
Gale Gordon
Gale Gordon was an American character actor perhaps best remembered as Lucille Ball's longtime television foil—and particularly as cantankerously combustible, tightfisted bank executive Theodore J. Mooney, on Ball's second television situation comedy, The Lucy Show...

, Lucie Arnaz
Lucie Arnaz
Lucie Désirée Arnaz is an American actress, singer, dancer and producer. She is the daughter of actors Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and is the sister of actor Desi Arnaz, Jr..- Early life :...

, Ken Berry
Ken Berry
Kenneth Ronald "Ken" Berry is an American dancer, comedic actor and singer. He began on stage as a dancer and later starred in television sitcoms.-Life and career:...

, Mike Farrell
Mike Farrell
Michael Joseph "Mike" Farrell is an American actor, best known for his role as Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on the television series M*A*S*H . He is an activist for politically liberal causes....

, Dick Shawn
Dick Shawn
Dick Shawn was an American actor and comedian.-Early life and career:Shawn was born as Richard Schulefand in Buffalo, New York. He played Sylvester Marcus, son of Mrs. Marcus , in Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Lorenzo St...

, and John Ritter
John Ritter
Jonathan Southworth "John" Ritter was an American actor, voice over artist and comedian perhaps best known for having played Jack Tripper and Paul Hennessy in the ABC sitcoms Three's Company and 8 Simple Rules, respectively...

 as well as Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach
Eli Herschel Wallach is an American film, television and stage actor, who gained fame in the late 1950s. For his performance in Baby Doll he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe nomination. One of his most famous roles is that of Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

, Anne Jackson
Anne Jackson
Anne Jackson is an American actress of television, stage, and screen.-Life and career:Jackson, the youngest of three sisters, was born in Millvale, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Stella Germaine and John Ivan Jackson, a barber who ran a beauty parlor...

, Jerry Stiller
Jerry Stiller
Gerald Isaac "Jerry" Stiller is an American comedian and actor.He spent many years in the comedy team Stiller and Meara with his wife Anne Meara...

, Anne Meara
Anne Meara
Anne Meara is an American actress and comedian. She and Jerry Stiller were a prominent 1960s comedy team, appearing as Stiller and Meara, and are the parents of actor/comedian Ben and actress Amy Stiller.- Personal life :...

, Jack Gilford
Jack Gilford
Jack Gilford was an American actor on Broadway, films and television.-Early life:Gilford was born Jacob Aaron Gellman on the lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, and grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn...

, Paul Sorvino
Paul Sorvino
Paul Anthony Sorvino is an American actor. He often portrays authority figures on both sides of the law, and is possibly best known for his roles as Paulie Cicero, a portrayal of Paul Vario in the film Goodfellas and Sgt. Phil Cerreta on the police procedural and legal drama television series Law...

, Hal Linden
Hal Linden
Hal Linden is an American stage and television actor and television director, best known for his role in the television comedy series Barney Miller and as presenter on the ABC educational series Animals, Animals, Animals....

, Mary Kay Place
Mary Kay Place
Mary Kay Place is an American actress, singer, director and screen writer. She is best known as portraying Loretta Haggers on the television series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, a role which won her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series in 1977...

, Walter Slezak
Walter Slezak
Walter Slezak was a portly Austrian character actor who appeared in numerous Hollywood films. Slezak often portrayed villains or thugs, most notably the German U-boat captain in Alfred Hitchcock's film Lifeboat , but occasionally he got to play lighter roles, as in The Wonderful World of the...

, and Carol Channing
Carol Channing
Carol Elaine Channing is an American singer, actress, and comedienne. She is the recipient of three Tony Awards , a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination...

, plus there were several appearances by Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin
Alan Wolf Arkin is an American actor, director, musician and singer. He is known for starring in such films as Wait Until Dark, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, Marley & Me, and...

 and one when his son Adam Arkin
Adam Arkin
Adam Arkin is an American television, film and stage actor and director. He played the role of Aaron Shutt on Chicago Hope. He has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Tony as well as 3 primetime Emmys, 4 SAG Awards , and a DGA Award...

 played Alan's father.


A cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

 starring a funnel-capped shape-shifting boy named Tom Terrific
Tom Terrific
Tom Terrific was an early animated series on American television, presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children's television show....

was part of the show in the 1950s and 1960s. Tom had a sidekick
A sidekick is a close companion who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies. Some well-known fictional sidekicks are Don Quixote's Sancho Panza, Sherlock Holmes' Doctor Watson, The Lone Ranger's Tonto, The Green Hornet's Kato and Batman's Robin.-Origins:The origin of the...

 named Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, and a nemesis, Crabby Appleton. Other cartoons included Lariat Sam, which was developed by veteran game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

An announcer is a presenter who makes "announcements" in an audio medium or a physical location.-Television and other media:Some announcers work in television production , radio or filmmaking, usually providing narrations, news updates, station identification, or an introduction of a product in...

 Gene Wood
Gene Wood
Eugene Edward "Gene" Wood was an American television personality, known primarily for his work as an announcer on various game shows. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he announced many game shows, primarily Mark Goodson–Bill Todman productions such as Family Feud, Card Sharks, Password, and Beat the...

, then a show staffer (who also sang the cartoon's theme song).

The Canadian-British cartoon Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings
Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings
Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings is a British children's animated television programme, featuring the adventures of a young child named Simon, who has a magic chalkboard...

appeared in the 1970s, featuring a child with magic chalk who could create all sorts of short-lived creations in short adventures (the original version featured a British narrator, but Keeshan's voice was dubbed onto the cartoons for their US airing.)

The UK-produced cartoon Ludwig
Ludwig (cartoon)
Ludwig was a surreal 1977 British-made children's cartoon animation about a magical egg-shaped gemstone who lived in a forest. Twenty-five 5-minute episodes were made....

about a magical egg-shaped robot was also included about that time. The cartoon's musical score consisted of selections from the works of Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...


Also appearing in the 1970s was The Most Important Person
The Most Important Person
The Most Important Person was an animation/live action series of over 60 short subjects of important topics in the lives of children. Produced in 1972 by Sutherland Learning Associates, these shorts were seen as part of CBS's Captain Kangaroo program. These shorts were later syndicated to local...

, a short series of five-minute segments on the importance of life; and The Kingdom of Could Be You
The Kingdom of Could Be You
The Kingdom of Could Be You was a spin-off of The Most Important Person. It explored occupations adults have as well as what their children could do when they get older.-External links:* at YouTube...

, a short series of five-minute segments on the importance of careers and the work world.

There was also a cartoon series called The Toothbrush Family
The Toothbrush Family
The Toothbrush Family is a 1977 Australian animated television series featuring a group of anthropomorphic toiletry products.Originally conceived by Marcia Hatfield of Australia as her son refused to brush his teeth, the Toothbrush Family expanded to include two international television shows,...

. Based on an extended family of hygiene utensils as the name suggests, they would embark on adventures based in the bathroom, like water skiing in the tub, or rescuing friends caught in the drain. Episodes were generally a couple of minutes each.

A silent cartoon in the 1970s named Crystal Tipps
Crystal Tipps and Alistair
Crystal Tipps and Alistair was a British cartoon produced for the BBC featuring a girl and her dog as well as their friends Birdie and Butterfly....

featured the adventures of a young girl. Later reruns were narrated by the voice of Mr. Moose. Another British favorite, The Wombles
The Wombles
The Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures that live in burrows, where they help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways. Wombles were created by author Elisabeth Beresford, originally appearing in a series of children's novels from 1968...

was also featured.

The Red & Blue
The Red and the Blue
The Red and the Blue may refer to:#A nickname used collectively for the University of Pennsylvania sports teams. The name comes from the two school colors which are apparent on the university's coat-of-arms...

shorts from Italy were also shown.

The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo
The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo
The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo was a series of five minute cartoons produced in Canada in the mid-1970s. They told the story of Captain Mark Nemo and his young assistants, Christine and Robbie, in their nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus....

, featuring a family of sea explorers, was featured as well.

Re-runs of the CB Bears
CB Bears
CB Bears was a 60-minute Saturday morning cartoon program block produced by Hanna-Barbera which aired on NBC from September 10 to December 3, 1977...

and Undercover Elephant, as well as Motormouse and Autocat (of the Cattanooga Cats
Cattanooga Cats
Cattanooga Cats is an animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera for ABC. It aired from September 6, 1969 until September 4, 1971.-Segments:...

) were shown in the 1980s Saturday Morning run.

"Good Morning Captain!"

Beginning in 1974 and continuing through the decade, the show would open with different people wishing the Captain 'good morning.' Many of the openings featured non-celebrities, but some featured stars from TV shows, most of which broadcast over CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, such as The Bob Newhart Show
The Bob Newhart Show
The Bob Newhart Show is an American situation comedy produced by MTM Enterprises, which aired 142 original episodes on CBS from September 16, , to April 1, . Comedian Bob Newhart portrayed a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers...

and One Day at a Time
One Day at a Time
One Day at a Time is an American situation comedy on the CBS network that aired from December 16, 1975 until May 28, 1984. It portrays Ann Romano, a divorced mother, played by Bonnie Franklin, her two teenage daughters Julie and Barbara Cooper and Schneider, their building superintendent .The show...

, as well as other characters with a connection to the network, including William Shatner
William Shatner
William Alan Shatner is a Canadian actor, musician, recording artist, and author. He gained worldwide fame and became a cultural icon for his portrayal of James T...

 and Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Simon Nimoy is an American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer. Nimoy's most famous role is that of Spock in the original Star Trek series , multiple films, television and video game sequels....

, dressed as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock; characters from the Peanuts
Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward...

 cartoons; and Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, also known as Mister Rogers, is an American children's television series that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers. The series is aimed primarily at preschool ages, 2-5, but has been stated by Public Broadcasting Service as "appropriate for all ages"...

. The montage of 'good mornings' would always end with the Captain himself returning the greeting before the opening credits ran.

Regular features

Other regular features included The Magic Drawing Board and the Captain's "Reading Stories" sessions, which introduced kids to stories such as Curious George
Curious George
Curious George is the protagonist of a series of popular children's books by the same name, written by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. The books feature a curious brown monkey named George, who is brought from his home in Africa by "The Man with The Yellow Hat" to live with him in a big city.When...

Make Way for Ducklings
Make Way For Ducklings
Make Way for Ducklings is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. First published in 1941, the book tells the story of a pair of mallard ducks who decide to raise their family on an island in the lagoon in Boston Public Garden, a park in the center of Boston,...

and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. The Sweet Pickles
Sweet Pickles
Sweet Pickles is a series of 40 children's books by Ruth Lerner Perle, Jacquelyn Reinach, and Richard Hefter and published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston, having sold over 50 million copies. The books are set in the fictional town of Sweet Pickles and are about anthropomorphic animals with different...

 books were also featured.
Songs included Little Mary Make Believe, Guess Who I Am, Little Black Frog, There's a Hole In the Bottom of the Sea, Erie Canal, Horse in Striped Pajamas, The Littlest Snowman, Daniel the Cocker Spaniel, and many more. On the first show of every month the Captain would have a birthday cake for all of the children with birthdays that month.

Keeshan also had a recurring role as "The Town Clown", a pantomime piece that took place in and around the exposed wagon home of a tramp-like circus clown. Like the character of Clarabelle that he played on Howdy Doody
Howdy Doody
Howdy Doody is an American children's television program that was created and produced by E. Roger Muir and telecast on NBC in the United States from 1947 until 1960. It was a pioneer in children's television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows...

, the Town Clown never spoke.

Favorites on the show were Grandfather Clock (voiced by Cosmo Allegretti), Rollo the Hippo and Dancing Bear.

Dancing Bear was mute and only appeared in short subject features. He often danced waltzes to background music.

The show would very often have simple black light theatre
Black light theatre
Black Light Theatre or simply Black Theatre, is a theatrical performance style characterized by the use of black box theatre augmented by black light illusion. This form of theatre originated from Asia and can be found in many places around the world...

 segments utilizing paper or cardboard cutouts. A notable recording of a popular song, such as Judy Garland
Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years and for her renowned contralto voice, she attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage...

 singing Over the Rainbow
Over the Rainbow
"Over the Rainbow" is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and was sung by Judy Garland in the movie...

 (from The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs...

), Mary Martin
Mary Martin
Mary Virginia Martin was an American actress and singer. She originated many roles over her career including Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Maria in The Sound of Music. She was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1989...

 singing Never Never Land
Never Never Land (song)
Never Never Land is a single from Lyfe Jennings from his album Lyfe Change.-Charts:...

 (from Peter Pan
Peter Pan (1954 musical)
Peter Pan is a musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan and Barrie's own novelization of it, Peter and Wendy. The music is mostly by Mark "Moose" Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics were written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty...

), Allan Jones singing The Donkey Serenade (from The Firefly
The Firefly (film)
The Firefly is a 1937 musical film starring Jeanette MacDonald, Allan Jones. The film is an adaptation of the operetta of the same name by composer Rudolf Friml and librettist Otto A. Harbach that premiered on Broadway in 1919...

), or Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye was a celebrated American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian...

 singing Inchworm
Inchworm (song)
"Inchworm", also known as "The Inch Worm", is a song originally performed by Danny Kaye in the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. It was written by Frank Loesser....

 (from Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen (film)
Hans Christian Andersen is a 1952 Hollywood musical film directed by Charles Vidor, with words and music by Frank Loesser. The story was by Myles Connolly, its screenplay was by Moss Hart and Ben Hecht , and was produced by The Samuel Goldwyn Company...

) would be heard while the cutouts played on the screen, animated by a concealed puppeteer
A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object, such as a puppet, in real time to create the illusion of life. The puppeteer may be visible to or hidden from the audience. A puppeteer can operate a puppet indirectly by the use of strings, rods, wires, electronics or directly by his or...

. On other occasions, full-fledged hand puppet
Hand puppet
A hand puppet is a type of puppet that is controlled by the leg or face that occupies the interior of the puppet. Glove puppets are a variation of hand puppets...

s would "perform" to the song being played.

Familiar props included a mockup of a talking cathedral-style radio that Keeshan simply called "Radio". Keeshan would turn the large knobs on "Radio" to get a conversation going. Reminiscent of the old Atwater Kent cathedrals, "Radio" had a rather interesting conversation with a smaller transistor radio
Transistor radio
A transistor radio is a small portable radio receiver using transistor-based circuitry. Following their development in 1954 they became the most popular electronic communication device in history, with billions manufactured during the 1960s and 1970s...

 in one show. Also featured was a huge Colgate toothpaste box with a large windup or clockwork key on the side. Keeshan turned the key to play a jingle ("Colgate Fluoride M-F-P/Helps Prevent the Cavity/And it Tastes Great, Naturally!") for the show's sponsor, Colgate Toothpaste.

Theme song

The original theme song to Captain Kangaroo (titled "Puffin' Billy") was used from 1955–1974. It was an instrumental, written by Edward G. White
Edward White (composer)
Edward George White was a British composer of light music whose compositions including Runaway Rocking Horse , Paris Interlude , Puffin' Billy and Telegoons became familiar as radio and television theme tunes.White was born in London, and was largely self-taught...

. The track was from a British stock music production library known as the Chappell Recorded Music Library which was sold through a New York agency called Emil Ascher. The tune's original title referred to a British steam locomotive. This tune was used on other programs on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, two years before Captain Kangaroo, it served as the wrap-up music for an episode of the radio program Rocky Fortune
Rocky Fortune
Rocky Fortune was the title of an American radio drama that aired weekly on NBC Radio beginning in October 1953 . The series ended its run in March 1954 after 25 episodes. The program was created by George Lefferts...

called "Murder Among the Statues". In its native United Kingdom, it became famous as the theme to the weekly BBC radio program Children's Favourites
Children's Favourites
Children's Favourites was a BBC Radio programme from 1954 broadcast on the Light Programme on Saturday mornings from 9:00. A precursor had been called Children's Choice after the style of Housewives' Choice....

from 1952 to 1966, and is still widely recognised by the post-war generation. It was later used in the Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton was an English children's writer also known as Mary Pollock.Noted for numerous series of books based on recurring characters and designed for different age groups,her books have enjoyed huge success in many parts of the world, and have sold over 600 million copies.One of Blyton's most...

 parody Five Go Mad in Dorset
Five Go Mad in Dorset
Five Go Mad in Dorset was the first of the long-running series of Comic Strip Presents... television comedy films. It first aired on the launch night of Channel 4 , and was written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens, and directed by Bob Spiers.-Plot and satire:The film is an extreme parody of...

and in a number of British TV adverts, including a Captain Sensible
Captain Sensible
Captain Sensible is a singer, songwriter, guitarist who grew up in Croydon, England, and co-founded the punk rock band The Damned in 1976. After leaving the band, he reinvented himself as an alternative pop singer with a rebellious, self-conscious image...

 spot. The "Puffin' Billy" theme played as the opening of each episode, with the music continuing until the Captain hung his large ring of keys on a nail (which seemed to act as a switch to turn off the music). If the Captain's keys ever slipped off the nail, the music would begin playing again.

In 1957, lyricist Mary Rogers penned lyrics to the tune, creating a newly titled Captain Kangaroo song.

In 1974, a new theme song titled "Good Morning, Captain" was composed for Captain Kangaroo, written by composer Robert L. Brush. As the new theme used similar melodic elements from the original theme, Edward G. White's name was added to the song credits.

During the brief Wake Up With the Captain era, a theme titled "Wake Up" was used.

For the show's final two seasons, Schoolhouse Rock mainstay Lynn Ahrens
Lynn Ahrens
Lynn Ahrens is an American writer and lyricist for the musical theatre, television and film. She has collaborated with Stephen Flaherty for many years...

 (who composed and performed a few Captain Kangaroo songs herself) composed a new theme, entitled "Here Comes Captain Kangaroo".

The theme song for All New Captain Kangaroo used the opening notes and part of the melody of the familiar theme as its introduction.

Schedule history

While Captain Kangaroo was still in planning stages, CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 executives had the idea of hiring Al Lewis, a kids' show host in Cincinnati (ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 was running Lewis' show at that time), to host their show, but Lewis' managers refused to release him from his contract. Lewis' local kids show went off the air in Cincinnati a year after Captain Kangaroo left CBS.

For the first three months, Captain Kangaroo was only seen on weekday mornings. From then until 1968, the show was also seen on Saturday mornings, except in the 1964-1965 season, when it was replaced by a Keeshan vehicle called Mr. Mayor. After 1968, the show was again seen only on weekdays. Except for pre-emption for news coverage, notably the three-day continuous coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy
Assassination of John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 in 1963, and a few shows that were 45 minutes, the show aired a full 60 minutes on weekday mornings until 1981. It was broadcast in color from September 9, 1968 onward.

The audience of children could never compete in the ratings with such entertainment/news shows as The Today Show, although it won Emmy Awards three times as Outstanding Children's entertainment series in 1978–1979, 1982–1983 and 1983–1984. But in the fall of 1981, to make more room for the expansion of CBS Morning News
CBS Morning News
For CBS's main morning news program, formerly known as CBS Morning News, see The Early Show.CBS Morning News is the half-hour daily television broadcast from CBS News that airs following Up to the Minute and features late-breaking news stories, weather forecasts, and sports scores...

, the Captain was moved to an earlier time slot of 7 a.m. and cut to 30 minutes, sporting the new title Wake Up with the Captain. In the fall of 1982, it returned to an hour format, but was moved to Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. Eastern Time and 6 a.m. in other time zones. Reruns from the previous season were offered to CBS affiliates to run Sunday morning in place of the cartoon reruns offered before, but most declined. One-third of affiliates no longer ran the show at all after 1982, and due to the lack of clearances, it was finally canceled altogether at the end of 1984.

Just over a year later, in 1986, Captain Kangaroo returned in reruns on PBS television stations, with funding from public television stations, School Zone Publishing Company and from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. American Public Television
American Public Television
American Public Television is the largest syndicator of programming for public television stations in the United States.-History:...

, then known as the "Interregional Program Service", distributed the show, along with Britder Associates (Bob Keeshan's production company), and the Riehl Company, owned by former WPBT-TV station manager Dale Riehl.

The show was on the air for 29 years, making it one of the longest-running network children's program series. Sesame Street
Sesame Street
Sesame Street has undergone significant changes in its history. According to writer Michael Davis, by the mid-1970s the show had become "an American institution". The cast and crew expanded during this time, including the hiring of women in the crew and additional minorities in the cast. The...

, insulated from the Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 wars, holds the record at over 40 years, and still airs. Several of the original Sesame Street writers and producers were hired from the Captain Kangaroo staff to help 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 Jim 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
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, often shortened to Macy's Day Parade, is an annual parade presented by Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States along with America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, and four years younger than...

 for several years in the 1960s.

Schwinn marketing

From the late 1950s, the Schwinn Bicycle Company made use of children's television programming to expand its dominance of the child and youth bicycle markets. The company was an early sponsor (from 1958) of Captain Kangaroo. The Captain himself was enlisted to sell Schwinn-brand bicycles to the show's audience, typically six years old and under. At the end of each live Schwinn marketing promotion, Bob Keeshan would intone, "Prices slightly higher in the South and in the West". The on-air marketing program was deemed successful by Schwinn, and the company increased its market share of child and youth bicycles throughout the 1960s.

The marketing program continued through the 1971 season, when the Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

's Staff Report, Guidelines on Advertising to Children, recommended against Schwinn's on-air marketing practices using the show's host. In response, Schwinn and the show's writers altered the format in 1972. The Captain no longer insisted that his viewers purchase a Schwinn, but instead made regular on-air consultations of a new character, Mr. Schwinn Dealer. A 1973 internal company news article concluded that the show's child audience had difficulty separating Schwinn's sales pitch from that of the show.

Popular culture

Canadian sketch-comedy show SCTV
Second City Television
Second City Television is a Canadian television sketch comedy show offshoot from Toronto's The Second City troupe that ran between 1976 and 1984.- Premise :...

spoofed Captain Kangaroo in its "Captain Combat" sketch first aired on Oct. 21, 1976. The title character was performed by Dave Thomas with Harold Ramis as "Mr. Green Fatigues" and John Candy puppeteering "Gunny Rabbit".

Rock musician Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

 wrote a composition named "Mr. Green Genes" on his album Uncle Meat
Uncle Meat
Uncle Meat is the fifth studio album by the Mothers of Invention, released in 1969. It is billed as a supposed "soundtrack" to a film by The Mothers of Invention which was, in the end, never made. The front cover, designed by Cal Schenkel, included the words ""...

and a sequel, "Son of Mr. Green Genes" on his album Hot Rats
Hot Rats
Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa. It was released in October 1969. Five of the six songs are instrumental . It was Zappa's first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention...

. This led to the urban legend that Zappa was the son of Hugh Brannum
Hugh Brannum
Hugh Brannum was an American vocalist, arranger, composer and actor best known for his role as "Mr. Green Jeans" on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo. During his days with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, he used his childhood nickname "Lumpy."-Early life:Brannum was born in...

, the actor who played the character Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo, a myth Zappa officially dispelled in his 1989 autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book
The Real Frank Zappa Book
The Real Frank Zappa Book is an autobiography/memoir by Frank Zappa, co-written by Peter Occhiogrosso. The text is copyright 1989 Frank Zappa, and copyright 1990 Simon & Schuster, Inc....

, and also by Keeshan in his 1996 autobiography, Good Morning, Captain.

Many popular songs make reference to Captain Kangaroo, including the Statler Brothers
Statler Brothers
The Statler Brothers were an American country music vocal group founded in 1955 in Staunton, Virginia.Originally performing gospel music at local churches, the group billed themselves as The Four Star Quartet, and later The Kingsmen...

' 1965 hit song "Flowers on the Wall
Flowers on the Wall
"Flowers on The Wall" is a song made famous by country music group The Statler Brothers. Written and composed by the group's original tenor, Lew DeWitt, the song peaked in popularity in January 1966, spending four weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart, and reaching No....

", the "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

 song "The Brady Bunch", the Bloodhound Gang's "Your Only Friends Are Make Believe", and the VeggieTales
VeggieTales is an American series of children's computer animated films featuring anthropomorphic vegetables in stories conveying moral themes based on Christianity...

 song, "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
"The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" is a single released by Christian rock band Relient K. It is a cover of a song originally performed by the cast of VeggieTales. It was later included in the 2003 compilation album Veggie Rocks!...


A Sunday Shoe
Shoe (comic strip)
Shoe is an American comic strip about a motley crew of newspapermen, all of whom are birds. It was written and drawn by its creator, cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, from 1977 until his death in 2000...

strip has Skyler admiring somebody on TV: "He looks great for his age", "He's a great communicator", etc. The reader is led to believe, and his Uncle Cosmo believes, he was referring to President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, but in the last panel Skyler reveals he has been referring to Captain Kangaroo. The strip was actually published in Keeshan's autobiography, "Good Morning Captain", in 1996.

Shari Lewis'
Shari Lewis
Shari Lewis was an American ventriloquist, puppeteer, and children's television show host, most popular during the 1960s and 1990s...

 syndicated TV program The Shari Show was set in the offices of a fictional television network, Bearly Broadcasting. One of the network's performers was "Captain Person", a kangaroo and host of a children's show. Captain Person was closely modeled after Bob Keeshan's on-screen persona.

Television appearances on network shows by Captain Kangaroo:
  • Muppets Tonight
    Muppets Tonight
    Muppets Tonight is a live-action/puppet television series created by Jim Henson Productions and featuring The Muppets. Much like the "MuppeTelevision" segment of The Jim Henson Hour, Muppets Tonight was a continuation of The Muppet Show, set in a television studio, rather than a theater.-Format:The...

    – January 4, 1998
  • Murphy Brown
    Murphy Brown
    Murphy Brown is an American situation comedy which aired on CBS from November 14, 1988, to May 18, 1998, for a total of 247 episodes. The program starred Candice Bergen as the eponymous Murphy Brown, a famous investigative journalist and news anchor for FYI, a fictional CBS television...

    Brown vs. The Board of Education
    Board of education
    A board of education or a school board or school committee is the title of the board of directors or board of trustees of a school, local school district or higher administrative level....

    – September 19, 1994
  • Day by Day
    Day by Day (TV series)
    Day by Day is an American sitcom starring Douglas Sheehan, Linda Kelsey, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Courtney Thorne-Smith , and Thora Birch...

    Trading Places – November 27, 1988
  • Cher
    Cher is an American recording artist, television personality, actress, director, record producer and philanthropist. Referred to as the Goddess of Pop, she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in...

    – September 28, 1975
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
    Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
    Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, also known as Mister Rogers, is an American children's television series that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers. The series is aimed primarily at preschool ages, 2-5, but has been stated by Public Broadcasting Service as "appropriate for all ages"...

    – March 30, 1971
  • The Andy Williams Show
    The Andy Williams Show
    The Andy Williams Show is a television variety show which ran from 1959 to 1971 , and a short-lived run in syndication, beginning in the fall of 1976...

    – December 19, 1970
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood – April 27, 1970

The movie Black Dynamite
Black Dynamite
Black Dynamite is a 2009 American film starring Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson, Arsenio Hall, Kevin Chapman and Tommy Davidson. It is a spoof of 1970s blaxploitation films...

features a minor character known as the "Captain Kangaroo Pimp", portrayed by a crew member who resembled Keeshan. In the movie, the pimp
A pimp is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing a location where she may engage clients...

 wears a red blazer very similar to the one worn by Keeshan.


In 2011, the trademark for "Captain Kangaroo" was acquired by The Cashin Comedy Co. According to the company's official website, the character would be "undergoing an update to appeal to contemporary family audiences but will maintain a very firm foundation in Bob Keeshan’s gentle approach to laughter and learning." The Captain will be portrayed by Pat Cashin.

External links

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