Sunday, August 9, 2015

Captain Kangaroo

Mr. Green Jeans and the Captain
If you were a child anytime from the beginning of television through 1984, you remember Captain Kangaroo, a gentle, avuncular kids' show host.  Apparently the captain was a bit more complex in real life.  Here, from a new book: 

“Bob Keeshan (who played Captain Kangaroo) was a miserable bastard. He’d played Clarabell the Clown on ‘The Howdy Doody Show’ and had gotten fired. He was very temperamental; the slightest thing would set him off — and did. Sometimes he’d work for half an hour, rip off his wig and go pouting back to his dressing room. He’d start screaming, ‘I’m not Clarabell anymore.’

“I came back from lunch one day, and I noticed he’d gotten angry and annihilated this bird cage. I said to a stagehand, ‘Should we call the ASPCA?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry. It was a plastic canary.’

“At the beginning of each show, before the Captain came through the door, Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh ‘Lumpy’ Brannum) would be reading a voice-over behind the set. During the reading, unbeknownst to the little viewers, Bob would take out his [penis], put a pencil under it and wave it at Brannum.

“Once, Bob was backstage reading the final voice-over — and Lumpy began to pee on Bob’s leg. It was a tit-for-tat thing, not malicious.”

“The irony is that Bob could be very generous at Christmas time. Each year he would find a hot gift for everyone, like a Texas Instruments calculator or a Casio watch.”

From "Last Stage Manager Standing," by Daniel Morgan, who dishes on many TV luminaries he observed in a 50-year career at all three of the legacy networks.  

Not my kind of book, but Goodreads people give it four stars out of five.

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