January 29, 2020
SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: BOB KEESHAN
(June 27, 1927-January 23, 2004)
Notable Roles: Clarabelle the Clown, Corny the Clown, Tinker, Captain Kangaroo, Mister Mayor, Aesop
After serving in WWII, Keeshan joined The Howdy Doody Show during the rise of television as the original Clarabell the Clown. Portrayed as mute, Clarabell would communicate with horns and would spray host Bob Smith with a seltzer bottle. Because of a salary dispute, he and most of the Howdy Doody cast walked off the show in 1952 and were subsequently replaced. He played another clown, Corny, on the local ABC program Time for Fun and created and starred in the preschool-aimed program Tinker’s Workshop. Developing ideas from Tinker’s, Keeshan and his friend Jack Miller submitted the concept of Captain Kangaroo to CBS when they were looking for new children’s programming. CBS greenlit the show and Keeshan starred as the titular Captain Kangaroo, so named for the large pockets on his coat, beginning on October 3, 1955. CBS continually changed its timeslot and length throughout its run, before he decided to end it when his contract ran out in December of 1984. The show earned Emmy Awards for its last three years on air. During Captain Kangaroo’s run, Keeshan tried to do a second show called Mister Mayor in 1964, but it only lasted a single year. In 1985, Keeshan hosted the original run of CBS Storybreak for three seasons, which featured animated adaptations of various children’s books. He considered a revival of Captain Kangaroo, but was unable to obtain the rights to do so. In 1987, he co-founded Corporate Family Solutions, which provided day-care programs to businesses. He took part in the 1993 congressional hearings against violence in video games and published his memoir in 1995. Keeshan also received several honorary doctorates for his work with children. Keeshan had suffered a heart attack in 1981 which led to his receiving triple-bypass surgery. He died of another heart attack in 2004.
The Howdy Doody Show
Hercules: The Animated Series