Captain Kangaroo – a Mustache that could make a million kids smile daily

Captain Kangaroo was the longest running network children’s show of all time – from 1955 until 1984, the good Captain could be seen mornings on CBS. Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum played sidekick Mr. Green Jeans, joining Cosmo Allegretti’s hand-puppets Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit in the Captain’s Treasure House.

Before Keeshan was a captain he was a clown – probably the most famous clown of the 1950s – Clarabell from the ‘Howdy Doody Show’ starring Buffalo Bob Smith.

‘Howdy Doody’ first aired on December 27, 1947 and is credited for selling more people on the future of television than any other single event. Millions of children tuned in to the daily live kid’s show, and Clarabell the clown was an important part of the ensemble – selling millions of Poll Parrot shoes, assorted toys, dolls and packaged cereals for the show’s sponsors.


Unfortunately, Buffalo Bob and Bob Keeshan didn’t much care for each other. Keeshan was fired in 1950, and replaced by another performer – but a flood of phone calls and mail from skeptical kids who could tell the difference in the clowns forced producers to re-hire him a few weeks later.

Keeshan was fired again (along with almost all of the rest of the supporting cast of ‘Howdy Doody’), when he led an uprising over more money minutes before going on the air live in December, 1952.


Bob Keeshan was only 28 years old in 1955 when he and producer Jack Miller created ‘Captain Kangaroo.’ Television was a relatively new addition to most American homes – there had never been a generation of kids exposed to home-video entertainment before, so the series was designed to give kids a gentle alternative to the frenetic nature of most children’s shows of the day (of which ‘Howdy Doody’ was one of the worst offenders). Watching an episode of Captain Kangaroo show from the early-sixties, one is struck by the achingly slow pace and overall gentle nature of the show.

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  • jeff judson  On December 7, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Is there a Bob Keeshan or Captain Kangaroo fan/collecors club out there anywhere?

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