Every weekday morning for nearly 30 years (1955-1984), Captain Kangaroo said good morning to kids from TV sets across the country. Created by the Captain, aka Bob Keeshan (who had originally played Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show), the show was telecast live to the eastern timezones, and broadcast on kinescope to the West Coast.
Captain for the kids
Don’t give away Captain Kangaroo’s secret
It would be a favor to a gentle fellow named Bob Keeshan if you would fail to explain to the youngest members of the household that a gentle television character named Captain Kangaroo is also Keeshan.
“Absolutely no good comes of it,” Keeshan told Charles Mercer of Associated Press. “Either the children are disappointed that Captain Kangaroo is not actually Captain Kangaroo. or else they think their parents are lying. It’s like learning there is no Santa Claus.”
In an age when television programming has largely decided to ignore the youngest children. “Captain Kangaroo” remains the only children’s show appearing six days a week on any of the networks.
This program is a hardy plant thriving among the sagebrush and exotic orchids of today’s “adult” television entertainment. It has garnered awards and high praise from educators and parents-to say nothing of the children themselves.
As Keeshan quickly points out, the program’s longevity (more than 1,000 shows) is thanks to the enthusiasm of CBS-TV and many of its affiliated stations. For the sad truth is that “Captain Kangaroo” loses money. Recently, a CBS spokesman said the network loses more than one million dollars a year on the show.
Happily, however, there is every indication that “Captain Kangaroo” will continue to be with us and the children for a long time to come.
Pressed to analyze the character of Captain Kangaroo, Keeshan said:
“Captain Kangaroo treats children as intelligent human beings and never talks down to them. He is not afraid to ask them to think. And he believes that they have good taste. He likes people in general and children in particular.”
As the keeper of the keys of a Children’s wonderland, “the treasure house,” with pockets always loaded with goodies, he treats his young audience to beautiful music, dancing, unusual games and toys, live animals, entertaining cartoons, simple studies of nature, and useful tips on how to make things.
“The word most applicable to Captain Kangaroo,” said Keeshan. “is ‘gentleness.’ In my opinion, this is a quality not found often enough in men these days. Too often gentleness is confused with weakness. Especially to the boys — the young men of our audience — we try to convey the thought that a man can be strong but gentle.
“Everywhere these days — in the movies, television and books — we get the idea that strong men must be physically strong. Too many of the heroes solve problems with violence. But young people have to be taught that violence solves nothing, that you can’t go around having your way. by punching people in the nose.”
As the father of three pre-school age children, Keeshan knows whereof he speaks. With his wife, Jeanne, and their three children, he recently moved two miles closer to his New York office and studio. Now he lives only 43 miles, distant — in Babylon, Long Island.
Good Morning, Captain! Captain Kangaroo theme & opening credits
Featuring Alice Ghostley, Bruce Jenner and Alan Alda