20 Little-Known Facts About Captain Kangaroo That’ll Make You Want To Head Back To The Treasure House

It was the series that turned Bob Keeshan into America’s favorite grandpa figure, which strongly advocated for quality family time and which entertained and educated children across the U.S.A. for the better part of 30 years. So, here are 20 things that you may not know about CBS’s long-running morning show, Captain Kangaroo.

20. Bob Keeshan began his career as a studio page

It’s fair to say that Captain Kangaroo himself, Bob Keeshan, worked his way up the showbiz ladder. Indeed, the star was originally employed by CBS as a page and was so poorly paid that Buffalo Bob Smith personally gave him money out of his own pocket after the shooting of each Howdy Doody episode.

19. Keeshan recorded several children’s albums

Keeshan wasn’t just a popular TV entertainer, either. In fact, the star was also a recording artist and he released several albums via Golden Records and Columbia Records. These records were designed to introduce kids to different types of music and included Captain Kangaroo Introduces You to the Nutcracker Suite and A Treasure House of Best-Loved Children’s Songs.

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18. Al Lewis was originally lined up as host

Keeshan wasn’t in fact the first choice to take on the now iconic role of Captain Kangaroo. Interestingly, CBS originally had children’s TV host Al Lewis in mind. However, his management refused to break his contract and the producers were forced to look elsewhere. And the rest, as they say, is history.

17. It’s the longest-running children’s show on commercial TV

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Having aired from 1955 until 1984, Captain Kangaroo holds the record for the most enduring children’s show in commercial TV history. Indeed, while Sesame Street may have run for longer, it is only now in its first years on a commercial channel.

16. It was one of the first racially-integrated children’s shows

Not only is Captain Kangaroo the longest-running children’s TV show on a commercial network, it is also deemed by many to be the first racially-integrated one. And that’s thanks to the casting of James Wall, an African-American stage manager who made the move into acting when he landed the role of the Captain’s all-knowing neighbor Mr. Baxter.

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15. The show’s theme tune was recycled

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The show’s famous theme tune was actually bought from a stock music library in Britain. Before playing over the credits of Captain Kangaroo, the track had been used as the theme for BBC radio show Children’s Favourites as well as appearing in Murder Among the Statues.

14. The cast regularly hosted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Long before NBC anchors such as Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker took over hosting duties, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was sometimes covered by fictional characters. And these included Captain Kangaroo and the gang, who were regulars on CBS’s coverage of the iconic event during the 1960s.

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13. The show created a character to advertise a bicycle company

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Captain Kangaroo’s rather sneaky producers didn’t let new laws on advertising on children’s TV stop them from promoting their sponsor, Schwinn. Actually, in a rather transparent move, the show simply created a brand new character in the 1970s named after the bicycle company, Mr. Schwinn Dealer.

12. Keeshan advocated against violent products aimed at kids

Nevertheless, Keeshan would go on to advocate against children’s shows based on toys such as Transformers and He-Man due to his notion that they had no real educational value. The Captain Kangaroo mainstay also protested against the use of violence in video games while appearing in congressional hearings on the subject in 1993.

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11. Bob Keeshan’s photo is buried at the top of Mount Everest

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Get ready to shed a tear. Following Bob Keeshan’s death in 2004, his grandson Britton decided to honor his memory in the most adventurous of ways. The 22-year-old buried a photo of his grandfather at the summit of Mount Everest after scaling the mountain just four months after the star’s passing.

10. The show became the center of an urban myth

Frank Zappa recorded two songs which appeared to reference a Captain Kangaroo character – “Mr. Green Genes” and “Son of Mr. Green Genes.” The tracks sparked rumors that the rocker was in fact the real life son of Hugh Brannum, a.k.a. Mr. Green Jeans. However, both Zappa and Bob Keeshan denied the claims in their respective memoirs.

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9. Hugh Brannum was once bitten by a lion cub on set

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Brannum may not have fathered one of rock’s greatest mavericks, but he did once get bitten on the finger by a lion cub while playing Mr. Green Jeans. Ever the professional, however, the actor actually managed to stay in character for the remainder of the episode. He simply hid his bloody hand in his pocket!

8. There was a rumored backstage prank war

Another Captain Kangaroo rumor – which seems just as unlikely to be true as Brannum fathering Zappa – is the one about a backstage prank war. According to some sources, then, Keeshan used to flash his manhood at Brannum shortly before going on stage, with his co-star reportedly urinating on him during a final voice-over in retaliation.

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7. Keeshan refused to appear in the late ‘90s revival

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You could be forgiven for not knowing that Captain Kangaroo actually made a comeback in the late ‘90s. The All New Captain Kangaroo, which saw John McDonough assume the lead role, aired for just one season before being canceled. Indeed, Bob Keeshan was so disappointed with the revival that he reportedly turned down an invitation to make a guest appearance.

6. Mr. Moose can be visited at the Smithsonian Institution

If you’ve ever wanted to see Mr. Moose up close and personal, then you are in luck. The character, renowned for telling knock-knock jokes – which consequently lead to a shower of falling ping pong balls – is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

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5. The Captain Kangaroo character was revived in 2011

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Captain Kangaroo was briefly revived in 2011 when the rights for the character were acquired by professional clown Pat Cashin. Sadly, with the exception of a few pictures posted online, plans to portray the Captain were cut short when the entertainer suddenly died, aged just 48.

4. Captain Kangaroo appeared in the Black Dynamite movie

Two years earlier, however, the Captain Kangaroo character unexpectedly showed up in the ‘70s Blaxploitation parody, Black Dynamite. What’s more, the Captain was also referenced by Bruce Willis’ John McClane in Die Hard with a Vengeance and in songs by the likes of the Statler Brothers, Bloodhound Gang and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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3. PBS kept the show alive for nearly a decade after filming stopped

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Although Captain Kangaroo was officially taken off the air by CBS in 1984, American Public Television managed to keep the show going for nearly a decade longer. Indeed, due to its continued popularity, the network decided to splice footage from its more recent episodes with classic reruns in order to continue broadcasting until 1993.

2. The show had a different theme tune during its PBS run

There was also another notable change from the original episodes on PBS – a completely different theme tune. Instead of the show’s much-loved classic composition, the network asked Schoolhouse Rock! veteran Lynn Ahrens to compose an entirely new tune, which was called “Here Comes Captain Kangaroo.”

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1. Bob Keeshan was a children’s favorite even before Captain Kangaroo

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Bob Keeshan may have become synonymous with Captain Kangaroo, but he was already familiar to many young viewers long before the show first aired. Yes, the legendary entertainer had starred as Clarabell the Clown on NBC’s Howdy Doody from 1948 until 1952. The silent clown’s signature move was to communicate by sounding horns tied to his belt.

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