Captain Kangaroo (1955)

Sixty-four years ago today, the television show Captain Kangaroo premiered. It ran for 29 years and logged 6,000 episodes. That means generations of children grew up watching him and creating specific memories.

CAPTAIN KANGAROO, Robert Keeshan, 1955-1984

Created by: Bob Keeshan
Written by: Howard Friedlander
Starring: Bob Keeshan, Hugh Brannum
Opening theme: “Puffin’ Billy (The Captain Kangaroo Theme)”
No. of seasons: 29
No. of episodes: 6,090
Running time: 60 minutes / 30 minutes
Original network: CBS
Original release: October 3, 1955 – December 8, 1984

Captain Kangaroo is an American children’s television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS from October 3, 1955, until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children’s television program of its day. In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series on PBS until 1993.

The show was conceived and the title character was played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on “the warm relationship between grandparents and children”. Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show when it aired on NBC. Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the “Treasure House” (later known as “The Captain’s Place”) where the Captain (the name “kangaroo” came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. Keeshan performed as the Captain more than 9,000 times over the nearly 30-year run of the show.

captain kangaroo 03The May 17, 1971, episode had two major changes on the show: The Treasure House was renovated and renamed “The Captain’s Place” and the Captain replaced his navy blue coat with a red coat. In September 1981, CBS shortened the hour-long show to a half-hour, briefly retitled it Wake Up with the Captain, and moved it to an earlier time slot; it was moved to weekends in September 1982, and returned to an hour-long format. Captain Kangaroo was cancelled by CBS at the end of 1984.

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