Playin' solitaire 'til dawn, with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo
Now don't tell me I've nothin' to do"
Captain Kangaroo is a children's television series created and hosted by Bob Keeshan. It ran weekday mornings on CBS from 1955 to 1984. The name "Captain Kangaroo" came from the large pockets in Keeshan's signature red jacket. After the show left CBS, it ran until 1990 on PBS.
Keeshan's supporting cast included Dennis the painter, played by Cosmo Allegretti, and Mr. Green Jeans, a farmer played by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum. Allegretti also operated the puppets Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. Other recurring characters included the Town Clown, the Dancing Bear and Fred from Channel One. The show also had animated segments, including Tom Terrific and Lariat Sam from Terrytoons, Crystal Tipps and Alistair from The BBC, and CB Bears from Hanna-Barbera.
Captain Kangaroo provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening: Done with the "Good Morning, Captain" theme song, 1974–84.
- Cool Old Guy: Mr Green Jeans throughout the series, and the Captain himself in the 1970s.
- Couch Gag: Beginning in the 1970s, various personalities — including cast members of CBS shows (The Bob Newhart Show, Maude, Match Game, The Carol Burnett Show), random celebs (Eli Wallach, Bette Davis, Bob Hope), and even rival children's show hosts (Mister Rogers) — would start the show saying, "Good morning, Captain!"
- Crossover: The Captain appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and Fred Rogers appeared on the Captain's show.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Dancing Bear is a ... bear who dances.
- Funny Phone Misunderstanding: In an early-'70s episode, the Captain's sidekick, Mr. Green Jeans, is on the telephone. We hear him say, to whoever it was on the phone,No, it's not "Mr. Cream Cheese", it's "Mr. Green Jeans"!
- Portal Picture: Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, a series of British animated shorts featured on the show in the '70s.
- Running Gag: Mr. Moose and the pingpong balls; Bunny Rabbit getting the carrots; the tiny marching band that only the Captain sees.
- Senior Sleep-Cycle: Once an episode the Captain has to wake up Grandfather Clock with the audience's help. "All together now. 1-2-3, WAKE UP GRANDFATHER!"
- Frank Zappa wrote two compositions, Mr. Green Genes (from his album Uncle Meat) and Son of Mr. Green Genes (from his album Hot Rats), which are shout-outs to the Captain Kangaroo character Mr. Green Jeans. This led to the Urban Legend that Zappa was supposedly the real son of Hugh Lumpy Brannum, the actor who played this character. Zappa debunked this myth in his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book.
- The country music group The Statler Brothers referred to the program in their hit song "Flowers on the Wall", quoted above.
- The Smurfette Principle: Deborah Weems as Debbie was the only female cast member.
- Soulful Plant Story: One segment focuses on a petunia with weepy eyes that sings "I'm a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch".
- Species Surname: Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Moose
- The Speechless: Bunny Rabbit, Dancing Bear
- Talking Appliance Sidekick: Grandfather Clock.
- Theme Tune:
- The original, Instrumental Theme Tune was Edward White's "Puffin' Billy", which Rightpondians of a certain age might better associate with BBC Radio's Children's Favourites program.
- This was replaced in 1974 with a vocal Thematic Theme Tune called "Good Morning, Captain" (although the "Puffin' Billy" melody was subtly woven into the new tune's arrangement).
- Yet another theme, "Wake Up", was introduced in 1981 when the show changed to a half-hour format.
- Finally, a theme called "Here Comes Captain Kangaroo" (written by Schoolhouse Rock! composer Lynn Ahrens) was used beginning in 1983.