- Bob Keeshan
bgcolour = silver
name = Bob Keeshan
birthdate = birth date|1927|6|27|mf=y
Lynbrook, New York, U.S.
deathdate = death date and age|2004|1|23|1927|6|27|mf=y
yearsactive = 1947-1998
birthname = Robert James Keeshan
othername = Captain Kangaroo
academyawards = Robert James Keeshan (
June 27, 1927– January 23, 2004) was an American television producerand actor. He is most famous as the title character of the children's television program" Captain Kangaroo", which became an icon for millions of baby boomersduring its 30-year run from 1955-1984.
Keeshan also played the original "
Clarabell the Clown" on the " Howdy Doody" television program.
Youth, education, military
Keeshan was born in
Lynbrook, New York. He attended Fordham University, following his service in the United States Marine CorpsReserve during World War II. An urban legendclaims that actor Lee Marvinsaid on "The Tonight Show" that he had fought alongside Keeshan at the Battle of Iwo Jima. However, Marvin never said this, never served on Iwo Jima(having been invalided out after the Battle of Saipanmany months before), and Keeshan himself never saw combat, having enlisted too late in the war to go overseas. [ [http://www.snopes.com/military/marvin.asp Urban Legends Reference Pages: Captain Kangaroo and Lee Marvin ] ]
Pioneering children's television
television programs began shortly after the end of the Second World War. Howdy Doody, an early show which premiered in 1947 on NBC, was one of the first. Debuting on January 3, 1948, [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00E3D61E39F937A15752C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print Bob Keeshan, Creator and Star of TV's 'Captain Kangaroo,' Is Dead at 76 - New York Times ] ] Keeshan played " Clarabell the Clown", a silent Auguste clownwho communicated by honking several horns attached to a belt around his waist. One horns meant "yes"; the other meant "no". Clarabell often sprayed Buffalo Bob Smithwith a seltzer bottleand played practical jokes. Keeshan gave up the role in 1952, and was replaced.
By August 1953, Keeshan was back on the air on
WABC-TV( New York City), in a new children’s show, "Time for Fun". He played Corny the Clown, and this time he spoke. [ [http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/K/htmlK/keeshanbob/keeshanbob.htm Keeshan, Bob ] ] Later that same year, in addition to "Time for Fun", Keeshan began "Tinker's Workshop", a program aimed at preschoolers, with him playing the grandfather-like Tinker. [ [http://www.clown-ministry.com/index_1.php?/site/articles/bob_keeshan_captain_kangaroo_the_first_clarabell_the_clown Bob Keeshan; Captain Kangaroo, the first Clarabell the Clown ] ]
Developing ideas from "Tinker's Workshop", Keeshan and his long-time friend Jack Miller submitted the concept of
Captain Kangarooto the CBSnetwork, which was looking for innovative approaches to children's televisionprogramming. CBS approved the show, and Keeshan starred as the title character when it premiered on CBSon October 3, 1955. [ [http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/K/htmlK/keeshanbob/keeshanbob.htm Keeshan, Bob ] ] Keeshan described his character as based on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." The show was an immediate success, and he served as its host for nearly three decades. The show ran until 1984.
Recurring characters included
Mr. Green Jeans, (played by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum), and puppets such as " Bunny Rabbit" and " Mr. Moose."
New York Times" commented: "Captain Kangaroo, a round-faced, pleasant, mustachioed man possessed of an unshakable calm ... was one of the most enduring characters television ever produced." [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00E3D61E39F937A15752C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print Bob Keeshan, Creator and Star of TV's 'Captain Kangaroo,' Is Dead at 76 - New York Times ] ]
Keeshan also had a Saturday morning show called "Mister Mayor" during the 1964-65 season.
After "Captain Kangaroo"
After "Captain Kangaroo" ended, Keeshan hosted 1985's "
CBS Storybreak", which featured animated versions of children's literature. Keeshan appeared in framing sequences for the animated stories, showcasing the book versions and suggesting similar books for the viewers to seek out. In 1987, Keeshan founded Corporate Family Solutionswith former TennesseeRepublican Governor Lamar Alexander. The company provided day-care programs to businesses.
Keeshan lived on Melbury Road in
Babylon Village, Long Island, New Yorkbefore moving to spend the last 14 years of his life in Vermont, where he became a children's advocate as well as an author. His memoirs, entitled "Good Morning, Captain", were published in 1995 by Fairview Press. He was a strong advocate against video game violence and took part in congressional hearings in 1993.
He later became an honorary member of
Dartmouth College's Class of 1942.
Keeshan died in Windsor, Vermont, on
January 23, 2004, at the age of 76. He was survived by three children. His wife of 40 years, Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan, had died in 1990. Keeshan's grandson, Britton Keeshan, became the youngest person to climb the Seven Summitsof Mount Everestin May 2004. He did so carrying photographs of his grandfather, and buried a photo of the two of them at the summit. [cite web |url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/2004-06-02-climbing-keeshan_x.htm |title=USATODAY.com - Keeshan spans globe to honor famous 'Kangaroo' |accessdate=2007-09-20 |work=]
Keeshan was buried in Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Babylon, New York.
Keeshan received many awards, including:
*Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Alfred University, 1969 [cite web |url=http://www.herr.alfred.edu/special/archives/histories/honorary/1960.shtml |title=Alfred University, Honorary Degrees, 1960-1969]
Emmy Awards (1978, 1981-1984)
Peabody Awards (1958, 1972, 1979)
*National Education Award, 1982
Kennedy Center Honors, 1987
*Induction into the
Clown Hall of Fame, 1990
American Medical AssociationDistinguished Service Award, 1991
*Induction into the
National Association of BroadcastersHall of Fame, 1998
*"The responsibility of parents is to raise children who do not need parents."
*"Children don't drop out of high school when they are 16, they do so in the first grade and wait 10 years to make it official." [cite web |url=http://publicbroadcasting.net/kera/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1140255§ionID=1 |title=KERA: Commentary: Pre-school Rankings (2007-09-06) |accessdate=2007-09-20 |work=]
Bob Keeshan speaking for United Way at
*imdb name|id=0444828|name=Bob Keeshan
* [http://www.clown-ministry.com/History/Bob-Keeshan-Clarabell.html Biography of Bob Keeshan]
* [http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DB0C08B919889D38 Archive of American Television video oral history with Bob Keeshan]
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