Bob Keeshan (1927 – 2004) is an American actor, producer and television host who worked primarily in children’s media. After starting out as Clarabell the mute Clown on Howdy Doody, he was fired from the show in the 1950s, but soon re-established himself as Captain Kangaroo. Where after years of entertainment many of his staff members for the network series went on to develop Sesame Street.
Bob Keeshan early influences
Bob Keeshan was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 27th, 1927. As a young man, he served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. After the war, he attended college on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a degree in education.
Keeshan’s first job in television was as Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody. He was fired from the show in 1954 after he refused to sign a contract that would have prevented him from working elsewhere.
But he soon found work as an assistant producer on The Walt Disney anthology television series. While working on the show, he came up with the idea for Captain Kangaroo. The show premiered on CBS in 1955 and ran for nearly 30 years.
Captain Kangaroo introduced children’s television
During his time as Captain Kangaroo, Keeshan became known for his gentle manner and his commitment to quality children’s programming. He won six Emmy Awards for the show.
While many of the staff members who worked on Captain Kangaroo went on to create Sesame Street, including writer and producer Dave Connell, director Jon Stone, and composer Joe Raposo. Keeshan himself was offered a role on the show, but he turned it down.
Bob Keeshan’s legacy of inspiration
Keeshan continued to work in children’s television after Captain Kangaroo ended in 1984. He hosted the educational series Tinker’s Workshop from 1987 to 1988 and appeared on several episodes of Reading Rainbow from 1983 to 1997.
He also published several books for children, including Good Morning, Captain: The First Twenty Years of Captain Kangaroo and Growing Up Happy: Memories of Captain Kangaroo.
Bob Keeshan’s work on Captain Kangaroo inspired a generation of children’s television programmers. His commitment to quality programming and his gentle manner continue to be influential today.