Bob Keeshan Biography

Bob Keeshan was an American actor, writer and producer, best known for the creation and portrayal of Captain Kangaroo on the TV series of the same name. Read this biography to know about his childhood, achievements, family life and other fun facts.

Quick Facts

Birthday: June 27, 1927

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

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

More Facts

education: Forest Hills High School, Fordham University

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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
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  • 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).
Major Works
  • 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.

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