Saluting A Better Captain, Gone To a Better Place

Sadly, an icon of children’s entertainment has passed away; Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, died at age 76:

Bob Keeshan, the television producer who created and ultimately became beloved children’s personality Captain Kangaroo, has died. Keeshan, who was born in Lynbrook, Long Island, was 76. Keeshan began his career by creating the character of Clarabell the Clown for the ‘Howdy Doody Show.’ He used that children’s show experience to mold Captain Kangaroo, winning over generations of children and their parents through innovative approaches to interesting topics.
As the easy-going Captain with his big pockets and his bushy mustache, Keeshan lured children into close engagement with literature, science and especially music, adopting an approach which mixed pleasure and pedagogy. Keeshan’s approach represented a rejection of pressures towards the increased commercialization of children’s programming as well as a toning-down of the high volume, slapstick style associated with earlier kid show hosts.

I don’t recall spending a lot of time watching Captain Kangaroo when I was younger, but I was in the stark minority for my generation, and small wonder. Keeshan devoted his life to entertaining and educating children, in the same mold (but different style) as Fred Rogers. Keeshan’s devotion to children is aptly demonstrated in this review of his early efforts at presenting high-quality entertainment:

Leaving the series in 1952, he played a succession of other clown characters, such as Corny, the host of WABC-TV’s ‘Time For Fun,’ a noontime cartoon program, where he exerted pressure to remove from airplay cartoons he felt were too violent or perpetuated racial stereotyping.

Farewell, Captain, and Godspeed. (via The SmarterCop)