Birthday: June 27, 1927
Died At Age: 76
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Robert James Keeshan
Born in: Lynbrook, New York
Famous as: Actor, TV Producer
Spouse/Ex-: Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan (m. 1950–1996)
children: Laurie Margaret, Maeve Jeanne, Michael Derek
Died on: January 23, 2004
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Forest Hills High School, Fordham University
Robert Keeshan, better known as Bob Keeshan, was an American actor, writer and producer. He gained fame for the creation and portrayal of Captain Kangaroo on the long-running children's TV series of the same name. He went on to reprise his role on different television shows throughout his career. The multiple Emmy Award-winning actor was known for his incredible work in the field of children’s educational entertainment. Some of his most notable roles included Clarabell the Clown on the ‘Howdy Doody’ show and Mr. Peavey on ‘The Jeff Foxworthy Show’. The veteran actor also produced several shows, including ‘Tinker’s Workshop’ and ‘CBS Afternoon Playhouse’. In his later life, he became an advocate for children’s rights. He was one of the first actors to speak against the production of television shows based on popular toys like ‘Transformers’. He is also remembered for fiercely advocating against violence in children’s video games. Keeshan’s steadfast dedication to use TV shows to educate children about the real world made him stand apart from his contemporaries. In recognition of his endeavors and achievements, he was inducted into NAB’s ‘Broadcasting Hall of Fame’.
Childhood & Early Life
Bob Keeshan was born as Robert James Keeshan on June 27, 1927, in Lynbrook, New York, USA. His father Joseph Keeshan worked as a grocery store manager, while his mother Margaret Keeshan was a housewife. After his father lost his job, the family was forced to move to Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, for a better life.
He attended the ‘Forest Hills High School’ in Queens. During his high school years, Keeshan started working as a page boy at the NBC studios. After graduating in 1945, he quit his job at NBC to join the ‘United States Marine Corps Reserve’.
He was in the USA when Japan surrendered at the end of World War II. After the war got over, Keeshan enrolled in the the ‘Fordham University’ and finished his education at the ‘Hillsdale College’.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Bob Keeshan started producing and broadcasting plays while still a child, using his school’s loudspeaker system. Once World War II ended, he went back to work for NBC. He eventually became an assistant to Bob Smith.
His hard work and natural talent were noticed by the NBC producers, and he was cast as Clarabell the Clown on the ‘Howdy Doody’ show from 1947 to 1952. The clown was a silent character who communicated by honking different horns attached to his belt. It was his first big break, and he went on to reprise his role on ‘The Milton Berle Show’ in 1949 and ‘Howdy Doody’s Christmas’ special in 1951.
Along with portraying Clarabell on TV, Bob Keeshan continued to study at the ‘Fordham University’, as he wanted to become a lawyer. But years of working in the entertainment industry had left him with a wealth of knowledge on creating TV shows. In 1953, he portrayed Corny the Clown in the TV series ‘Time for Fun’.
In 1954, Keeshan began to star as Tinker the Toymaker in the children’s series ‘Tinker’s Workshop’. Following that, he created and starred in the highly popular children’s educational program ‘Captain Kangaroo’ (1955 – 1984). He reprised the role of Captain Kangaroo in the TV series ‘Mister Mayor’ from 1964 to 1965.
In his long and prolific career, Keeshan reprised the role of Captain Kangaroo in several TV shows. They included ‘The Andy Williams Show’ (1970), ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ (1970 – 1971), ‘Day by Day’ (1988), ‘Murphy Brown’ (1994) and ‘Muppets Tonight’ (1998).
He was the host of ‘CBS Storybreak’ from 1985 to 1989 and ‘Know Your Body’ from 1986 to 1988. His last known acting credits included the movie ‘The Stupids’ (1996) and the TV series ‘The Jeff Foxworthy Show’ (1997) and ‘Hercules’ (1998).
Bob Keeshan’s portrayal of Captain Kangaroo on the children’s TV series of the same name remains his most famous role. ‘Captain Kangaroo’ started airing on CBS on October 3, 1955, and ran until 1984. His performance on the show earned him five ‘Emmy Awards’ and three ‘Peabody Awards’.
Awards & Achievements
Bob Keeshan earned several accolades for his contributions to the educational entertainment of children, in addition to his advocacy for children’s safety and rights. In 1965, he was given the ‘Iris Man of the Year Award’.
Keeshan received honorary doctorate degrees from the ‘Alfred University’ in 1969, the ‘Dartmouth College’ in 1975 and the ‘Fordham University’ in 1975, to name a few.
He received the ‘National Education Award’ in 1982. The ‘American Medical Association’ gave him the ‘Distinguished Service Award’ in 1991.
Family & Personal Life
Bob Keeshan married Anne Jeaane Laurie on December 30, 1950. They remained happily married until Anne’s death on February 25, 1996. They had three children together; Michael Derek, Maeve Jeanne and Laurie Margaret.
Keeshan passed away on January 23, 2004, in Windsor, Vermont, USA. He was laid to rest in Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Babylon, New York.