May 26, 1962:
Captain Kangaroo hopped on over to Scranton to share his “Fun with Music” program with the pre-school and elementary school children of the area.
The captain, aka Bob Keeshan, entertained children for many years. First, he portrayed Clarabell the Clown on “The Hoddy Doddy Show” until 1952, and then three years later, he started the “Captain Kangaroo” show on CBS.
His “Fun with Music” program helped introduce younger children and elementary school students to classical music. The Junior League of Scranton arranged for the television star’s first visit to Northeast Pennsylvania to share the delights of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven with local youngsters. His appearance was part of the league’s ongoing effort to provide children’s educational programming in Scranton.
The Scranton Philharmonic Orchestra – under the direction of Skitch Henderson, who also was the band leader of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” – joined Captain Kangaroo that Saturday at the Masonic Temple. Proceeds from ticket sales for the two performances went to the orchestra and the Junior League’s Community Trust Fund. Tickets were available for purchase at Scranton Dry Goods Co. and from Junior League members.
Prior to the concert, five girls and five boys were selected to appear on stage during the show with Captain Kangaroo and help him lead the orchestra in a performance of the song “76 Trombones” from the musical “The Music Man.” The helpers were Diane Arnold, Brad Batten, Jodie Belin, Ricky Doud, Tari Eckersely, Gary Friedman, Carol Jewett, Ricky Marquardt, Ellen Morgan and John Oppenheim. The kids came to Masonic Temple the morning of the performance to meet Captain Kangaroo and practice their portion of the show.
Captain Kangaroo continued entertaining and educating children until 1984, when the award-winning show ended after 29 years on CBS.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast