Saturday, October 8, 2022

Hugh Brannum, Mr. Green Jeans on the Captain Kangaroo show.

Hugh Brannum (1910-1987) was an American vocalist, arranger, composer, and actor known for his role as Mr. Green Jeans on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo.

Brannum was born in Sandwich, Illinois, in 1910 to a Methodist minister. He attended Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, where he played sousaphone in the school's marching band, later learning the bass violin.

Robert James “Bob” KeeshanCaptain Kangaroo, had a recurring role as the Town Clown, a pantomime piece that took place in and around the exposed wagon home of a tramp-like circus clown.
Captain Kangaroo as the Town Clown.

The "Kangaroo" part of Keeshan's name came from the oversized pockets on the lower half of his bright red jacket.
Captain Kangaroo Worn Red Jacket. Movie/TV Memorabilia Costumes.

Hugh Brannum (Mr. Green Jeans) and Cosmo Allegretti (Mr. Moose). On the first show of every month, the Captain had a birthday cake for all of the children with birthdays that month. Brannum indicates that the show is celebrating its fifth year on the air. 1960

One of the show's long-running gags was the "Ping-Pong Ball Drop," instigated by the telling of a joke (usually a knock-knock joke) by Mr. Moose, in which the punchline included the words "ping-pong balls." At the mention of those three words, a shower of ping-pong balls was released from above on the Captain.

Especially in later seasons, the show also featured a running gag where on selected episodes, the Captain would try to perform a particular activity three or four times in the episode, only to fail differently on each attempt.
Captain Kangaroo promotional postcard. Shown from the left are Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit, Captain Kangaroo, Grandfather Clock, Mister Moose, and Mister Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum). 1961

At the end of each episode, the Captain always encouraged parents watching the show to spend quality time with their children daily, and he often demonstrated various creative ways to do so. In later seasons, that changed to him saying, "Well, what would you like to do today? You know it could be a good day for..." then a song would list many different activities while short film clips of each related activity are presented. The song ended with the singers saying, "There's so much to do. These things are just a few." Then it would cut back to the Captain, who would sign off with, "So whatever you do, have a great day!"
Captain Kangaroo and Dancing Bear. circa 1956

Captain Kangaroo and the Schwinn Bicycle Company
From the late 1950s, the Schwinn Bicycle Company used children's television programming to expand its child and youth bicycle market dominance. The company was an early sponsor (from 1958) of Captain Kangaroo. 

The Captain himself was enlisted to sell Schwinn-brand bicycles to the show's audience, typically six years old and under. At the end of each live Schwinn marketing promotion, Bob Keeshan would intone, "Schwinn bikes—the quality bikes—are best!" and "Prices slightly higher in the South and the West." Schwinn deemed the on-air marketing program successful, and the company increased its market share of child and youth bicycles throughout the 1960s. 
1968 Schwinn Pea Picker Krate in front of a Schwinn advertisement for showrooms. 

The marketing program continued through the 1971 season, when the Federal Trade Commission's Staff Report, Guidelines on Advertising to Children, recommended against Schwinn's on-air marketing practices using the show's host. In response, Schwinn and the show's writers altered the format in 1972. The Captain no longer insisted that his viewers purchase a Schwinn but instead made regular on-air consultations with the new Captain Kangaroo character, Mr. Schwinn Dealer. Brilliant. 
Opening Theme for the Captain Kangaroo Show.

Captain Kangaroo Episode From 1956

Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) on 48 Hours (CBS) 1995
Opens with the Ping-Pong Ball Drop.

  • Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Pennywhistle, Mr. Doodle, Wally and the Town Clown.
  • Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans, the New Old Folk Singer, Percy, Uncle Backwards, Mr. McGregor, and Mr. Bainter the Painter.
  • Cosmo Allegretti appeared as Mr. Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose (both of which he also created), Dennis the Apprentice, Willy, Miss Frog, Mr. Whispers, Dancing Bear, Grandfather Clock, and Uncle Ralph; he was the voice of Aniforms puppet TV Fred (a live-action on-screen puppet that appeared behind the blackboard in the Treasure House), and was the artist behind the Magic Drawing Board.
  • Sam Levine as The Banana Man; the character was created by Adolph Proper.
  • Bill Cosby as himself, the host of the Picture Pages segment (1980–1984).
  • Debbie Weems appeared as Debbie (1973–1978), the voice for the puppet character Baby Duck.
  • James Wall as Mr. Baxter (1968–1978) - was also the stage manager.
  • Carolyn Mignini as Kathy and other female roles (1981–1983).
  • Kevin Clash as the puppet character Artie (1980–1984) and as himself, acting in many of the sketches.
  • John Burstein as Slim Goodbody (1978–1981).
  • Bill McCutcheon as Mr. Homan (1965–1968).
  • Jane Connell as Mrs. Homan (1965–1968).
  • Dr. Joyce Brothers as herself for three seasons.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another interesting article Neil! I watched Captain Kangaroo all the time as a kid. Sweet memories of childhood innocence .


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