Captain of kids' TV

Culture | MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME: Farewell to television's beloved Bob Keeshan-and to other notables who passed away

Bob Keeshan, best known by generations of children as Captain Kangaroo, died Jan. 23 at the age of 76. Getting his start as Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, another classic of children's television, Mr. Keeshan came up with the idea of the Captain, based, as

he said, on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children."

He was only 28 when he began the show and had to use makeup to make him seem old, but during the course of the show's 29-year run on CBS, he joked that he grew into the role. With the help of his sidekick Mr. Green Jeans and personality-rich puppets like Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, and Grandfather Clock, the Captain's Treasure House delighted children as it was teaching them about kindness, sharing, and honesty. Mr. Keeshan also made a point of reading to his audience a low-tech book every week as the camera looked over his shoulder.

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Even at the time, Captain Kangaroo was an alternative to frenetic cartoons and noisy audience-participation shows for kids, and he paved the way for Mr. Rogers, another kindly adult. Despite the razzle-dazzle of most children's entertainment, kids still have the most fun with a grandparent.


Olga Ladyzhenskaya (Jan. 12), 81, Russian mathematician whose innovative work in differential equations made important contributions to oceanography, aerodynamics, cardiovascular medicine, and meteorology. Because her father was a victim of Stalin's purges, she was not allowed to enter the major Russian universities, but nevertheless rose to become one of the world's top mathematicians. She was a friend of the Christian dissident writers Anna Akhmatova and Alekandr Solzhenitsyn.

Michael L. Karmazin (Jan. 21), 84, the New Orleans prosecutor who, with colleague Jim Garrison, tried businessman Clay Shaw in an alleged CIA conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. Mr. Shaw was acquitted in less than an hour, but the case was the basis for Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK, which polls show many people believe provides the real explanation for the president's assassination.

Edward A. Lane (Jan. 9), 96, a photographer known for his pictures of the atomic bomb tests on Bikini Atoll in 1946. After his military work, he became a photojournalist for publications such as The Saturday Evening Post. "He was always very affected by the vision of that bomb and the destructive power of it," said his daughter. "I think it sort of changed him for a long time. It caused him to really seek the serenity of the mountains."

Helmut Newton (Jan. 23), 83, was another acclaimed photographer, but instead of using his gifts in the service of truth, as did Mr. Lane, he pioneered the photography of naked women. A native of Germany, Mr. Newton said that he got his first inspiration from prostitutes, and he went on to shoot super models and celebrities. "He will be very much missed," said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

Dick Rodgers (Jan. 22), 76, the "Polka King." The Wisconsin musician hosted a TV show that was carried on as many as 17 stations in the Midwest and ran from 1955 to 1978. His polka show was an institution for many Wisconsinites, since it ran just before the Packers football games. Son Steve Rodgers said: "He was an innovator; he was dedicated to his music and worked hard at it. He treated people very well and was rewarded for it."

Billy May (Jan. 22), 87, a trumpeter, composer, and big-band arranger. While working with Glen Miller's band, he arranged such standards as "Take the 'A' Train" and "Serenade in Blue." He also arranged "Cherokee" for Charlie Barnet and worked with luminaries such as Woody Herman, Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole.

Leonidas da Silva (Jan. 24), 90, Brazil's first soccer superstar. He is credited with inventing the "bicycle kick," the spectacular play that involves passing or shooting the ball from an upside-down position.

George Woodbridge (Jan. 20), 73, an illustrator for Mad magazine. He drew for the satirical monthly for nearly 50 years and had cartoons in nearly every issue. He had a penchant for both satire and artistic realism, with a second career as an illustrator for military histories.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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