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Inside the life of Bob Keeshan, also known as Captain Kangaroo: The things you didn’t know about him.

For three decades, he entertained millions of kids as well as their parents—Captain Kangaroo is still the longest-running nationally aired children’s program.

And none of this would be possible without the legendary Bob Keeshan.

Robert James Keeshan, the famed performer, was born in Lynbrook, New York. Keeshan was born in 1927 and grew up at his family’s house before attending Forest Hills High School nearby. Keeshan’s family was Irish on both sides, and he stayed true to his origins.

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He started working for NBC when he was 16 years old. He earned $13.50 a week as a page at NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center.

Keeshan joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school. Despite this, Keeshan did not fight in WWII since he was still in the United States when Japan surrendered.

Several theories concerning Keeshan’s military service have arisen throughout time. According to folklore, he fought in the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.

Furthermore, others claim that he was awarded the Navy Cross and that Keeshan damaged a German tank in North Africa. These were false assertions, since Keeshan never fought in any engagements in the Pacific or Europe. He always denied these rumors, claiming that he was the least aggressive Marine in the history of the Marine Corps.

Keehsan attended Fordham University for pre-law after the war. But the allure of television pushed him to drop out of school and pursue a profession in television instead.

Bob Smith, an NBC television personality, developed the popular show Howdy Doody and gave Keeshan a role on it. The excited young guy agreed right away, first managing props and then making cameo appearances on the program.

Keeshan was sacked from the program following a dispute with Smith and was jobless for a while.

Ultimately, he was offered the role of “Corny the Clown” on Time for Fun.

He started playing a similar role in another series, Tinker’s Workshop, while working on Time for Fun. Captain Kangaroo was created at this location.

The experiences Keeshan had with these programs led him to develop more kid-friendly programming. When he was offered to produce a children’s morning program, he instantly selected Captain Kangaroo as the main character.

Keeshan made two demands to the studio before the program began, both of which were granted. The first was to never display ads during the program’s duration, and the second was to never invite kids to the set—Keeshan wished every kid watching from home to feel special, not excluded.

His program ran every day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and it was undoubtedly the most popular children’s show at the time.

Captain Kangaroo received five Emmy nominations (1978 and 1981–1984), three Peabody nominations, and a National Education Award in 1982.

Keeshan centered the program on moral teachings for youngsters, avoiding violence, and dealing with grownup issues. This made the program light and enjoyable for families to watch.

He also stated that, although the show will benefit youngsters, it is eventually up to their parents to educate them on how to act and think morally.

On July 11, 1981, a 54-year-old man named Keeshan disembarked from an aeroplane in Toronto to accept a children’s service award, which was a watershed moment in his life.

What was intended to be a happy event turned into a terrifying encounter when Keeshan fell and had a serious heart attack, needing triple bypass surgery.

During this difficult time, his followers prayed for Keeshan, and he got over 5,000 get-well messages while recuperating in the hospital.

CBS was forced to downsize and rename Keeshan’s program due to his poor health.

Keeshan, who was obviously dedicated to helping kids, departed from his program in 1984 but continued to advocate for kids in a number of ways.

He relocated to Norwich, Vermont, where he spent the final 14 years of his life writing about children’s programming, pushing for better children’s television, and consulting with daycares.

Jeanie, his wife, died in 1990. The couple had three children (Laurie Margaret, Michael Derek, and Maeve Jeanne), who gave them six grandchildren in all.

Bob Keeshan died of a heart attack in January 2004 at the age of 76.

Bob’s grandson completed an extraordinary achievement that brought tears to my eyes only four months after his grandpa died.

Britton Keeshan, Bob’s grandson, then became the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits, culminating in a May 2004 ascent of Mount Everest. Britton had carried some images of his grandpa with him on his grueling climb up Mount Everest, which added to the poignancy of this extraordinary feat.

When he reached the summit, he buried a photograph of himself and Bob Keeshan, which still stands on Mount Everest. What a wonderful tribute to a remarkable guy!

Have you ever seen “Captain Kangaroo”? Tell us in the comments!

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