Captain Kangaroo Debuts (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: A new orientation in television that respected children’s intelligence was demonstrated by the long-lasting, highly popular, and much-praised Captain Kangaroo program.
Summary of Event
With high hopes but with no fanfare, as there were no well-known stars in the low-budget program, Bob Keeshan made the premiere on October 3, 1955, of Captain Kangaroo. Not even the creators of Captain Kangaroo could have predicted in its infancy that the program would remain on television for almost a third of a century.
The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) had selected the show from among five possibilities after seeing, in July, 1955, the pilot constructed by Bob Keeshan and Jack Miller, who left the show in 1958. Keeshan, a former page at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), had played the clown Clarabelle for five years (1947-1952) on The Howdy Doody Hour, but he had been fired from the job. CBS was looking for a replacement for Jack Paar’s morning show, and the network wanted to experiment with children’s shows to try to increase the sales of television sets in general and the popularity of CBS in particular.
Eight months of unemployment must have been difficult both economically and psychologically for Keeshan, but it did not stop him from critically considering the present offerings in children’s television, especially the volume of slapstick and...
(The entire section is 2199 words.)
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