Final Farewell to Beloved TV Icon

By: Nancy Weiner
By: Nancy Weiner

Captain Kangaroo's television Treasure House was part of the enchanted world of childhood for millions of youngsters over several generations.

The program became as much a part of morning as breakfast, before heading off to school. Bob Keeshan, who will forever be Captain Kangaroo in the memories of former children died Friday after a long illness.

He was an entertainer and an educator, first in black and white, later in color. With his trademark moustache and haircut and with friends like Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit, Dancing Bear and Mr. Moose at his side, Captain Kangaroo taught kids about values, and about reading and math and science, always with a gentle sense of humor.

How many of you remember Captain Kangaroo saying, "Snow, what snow are you talking about?" to Mr. Moose as he walked out a door and was hit by stage snow, conveniently placed to nail him?

Keeshan created the show in 1955 after playing Clarabell the Clown on the Howdy Doody show for five years.

A precursor to other educational programs like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Captain Kangaroo won six Emmys and three Peabody awards.

Both on the show and off, Keeshan stressed the central role parents play in a child's life.

"The parent is the most important person, and when you spend time with the child, the child says, 'wow, the most important person is spending a lot of time with me, sharing with me, letting me help, how really wonderful I must be," said Keeshan.

The show aired on WTOK-TV, which at the time, was a CBS affiliate. After 30 years on CBS and six more on PBS, Captain Kangaroo hung up his keys for good in 1993, but Keeshan remained an impassioned advocate for positive, violence-free television programming.

"Children need television more than at any other time in the nation's history," said Keeshan. "Let's do right by children on TV and elsewhere."

Keeshan's family says he died in a hospital near his home in Vermont at the age of 76.


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