Goodbye, Captain: Generations mourn your passing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

When I was a child, nobody said "Good morning" quite like the Captain.

Unfortunately, children of today's

generation won't get to wake up to Captain Kangaroo and his pals Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. Last week, Bob Keeshan, the Captain himself, died at age 76. But for my generation, the Captain's passing is a reminder that nobody will ever entertain droves of children quite like Keeshan.

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When I learned of his death Friday, I couldn't get the jingle out of my head - you know, the "Good morning, Captain … wake up the sunshine …" For nearly 25 years, Captain Kangaroo captivated children in the 3 to 10 range, and had fans much, much older. I am proud to say I was one of those children.

From the mid '50s to the early '80s, Captain Kangaroo was a part of American culture. From 1955 until 1981, Captain Kangaroo was a morning staple on CBS. In 1981, the show went from an hour to 30 minutes and, the following year, it was limited to weekend mornings. In 1984, CBS canceled the show altogether, but PBS picked it up and ran it for six more years.

As I recall, just about every morning I would get my bowl of cereal, put it on a TV tray and plop down on the floor in front of our console television and spent the morning with the Captain.

The image of the Captain - sporting his red jacket, chili-bowl haircut and walrus-like mustache - is one that will not soon be forgotten. The Captain entertained children in a gentle way.

He taught us to share. He taught us to be kind to one another. He taught us good manners.

And his sidekicks were entertaining in their own ways. Mr. Moose, my favorite, loved to tell knock-knock jokes and drop ping-pong balls on the Captain. Mr. Green Jeans invented some interesting machines that ended up working the wrong way. Bunny Rabbit liked to trick the Captain out of carrots.

Since the Captain and his crew did not have any high-tech special effects, no gimmicks, no gadgets and no screaming audiences, I’m sure by today's standards the show would be considered boring, but in those days it was very entertaining.

The passing of Captain Kangaroo is another reminder that we have lost too many of those career performers who, in the early age of television, came across the airwaves only to teach, entertain and be silly.

While the name "Bob Keeshan" might not mean a lot to some people, the character he played on television for more than three decades - Captain Kangaroo

- sure does. Goodbye, Captain, we were all better for knowing you. You will be missed.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 19 or via e-mail at