Every morning, he opened the door to his Treasure House and invited millions of kids to share an easygoing hour of laughter and learning. He wore a jacket with giant pockets, and thus came his name. And, thanks to his efforts, Captain Kangaroo became one of the longest running children’s programs in network television history (only Sesame Street bested the Captain).
Bob Keeshan was no stranger to children’s TV. He spent five years (1948 to 1952) playing Clarabelle the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show. After that program ran its course, Keeshan envisioned a different kind of kids’ show. Instead of the frantic pace and noisy chaos typical of the day, he created a relaxed atmosphere of friendly whimsy. His Captain Kangaroo persona offered the reassuring presence of a favorite uncle or grandfather, though Keeshan was a mere 28 years old when the show began.
Captain Kangaroo made its debut in 1955 as a live broadcast. In 1959, the show was committed to pre-recorded tape, and in 1966, the Captain was first broadcast in color, showing off the vivid hues of his coat. Captain Kangaroo was on six mornings a week, with Sundays off.
A typical episode included the Captain reading from a storybook, watching pictures appear on the Magic Drawing Board, and interacting with his puppet friends. Bunny Rabbit, a bespectacled hare, was ever ready to steal carrots. Mister Moose, the high-pitched prankster, topped every joke with an avalanche of ping-pong balls dropped directly on the Captain’s never-suspecting noggin.