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Captain Kangaroo’s birthday

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Bob Keeshan was born June 27, 1927. Happy #76 to Captain Kangaroo.

Now, Fred Rogers was a fine man with a perfectly good show, but Captain Kangaroo was my guy as a young child. Mr. Rogers probably was more socially relevant or something. He probably did more to calm the nerves of children in crisis and such.

The Captain, however, made for a much more fun time. The pranking on the Captain particularly entertained me. He played the indulgent uncle who could take a joke. The images of the ping pong balls raining down on his head- and his reaction shots- that always thrilled me.

I note that apparently there are no videos of Captain Kangaroo available. Thus I end up having to list The Stupids movie as the top thing available with Keeshan. How wrong is that?

OK, looking closer, I have found a couple of minor VHS items, but it ain’t much of a representation for such an icon of childhood.

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  • John

    Does anyone remember Debbie Weems from Captain Kangaroo? I thought she was great! She was beautiful, talented and sang so well. She died under odd circumstances. Will anyone share the details? Thanks!

  • deb brown

    Do you mean to tell me there are no
    videos of the classic Captain Kangaroo
    shows anywhere? Why? That’s terrible.
    There must be somewhere. I keep searching and all I can find is the crap
    they came up with in the early 80’s. Well, I just find this hard to believe.
    I am going to keep looking if I have to
    write to CBS myself.

  • Ms. Brown, I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’m telling you. There appear to be no currently available commercial videos of Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo. These listed here are apparently fakes, that is starring some post-Keeshan incarnation- which I didn’t pay close enough attention to notice when I first wrote this.

  • Al Barger was a child?

  • Holly

    John, I remember Debbie Weems. In fact I have an old record album of hers. I’ve been looking all over the place for a copy of it on cd or cassette. It’s like no one has ever heard of her. The album is of children’s songs. If you hear anything about this album, please let me know.

  • Now Mr Bunny Rabbit, you leave those ping pong balls alone…

  • Maria

    Debbie Weems was my aunt.. I never met her but my mom has cd’s and records of hers. We also have a couple of old videos of her on Captain Kangaroo.

  • AS a child growing up, I watched the show just to see Debbie Weems. I had a big crush on her. I always wondered what happened to her.

  • Steve

    I had forgotton about it until I saw this web site other day. I had a photo of Debbie Weems since I was a child. I don’t know if it was from a magazine or TV guide. She’s standing next to grandfather clock.

  • John

    Hello Holly,

    Is there a possibility that one could buy a copy of those videos of Captain Kangaroo with your aunt Debbie Weems?

  • John

    Dear Maria,

    Sorry I got your name mixed up. Is there a way to get copies of those shows with Debbie Weems?

  • Erin

    I knew Debbie very well she was a long time girlfriend of my uncle. I loved her like a big sister and was devistated when she took her own life. Debbie suffered from Anorexia and depression. Nobody knew much about Anorexia in the 1970s. She was being treated at a Conneticut hospital. While on a short visit back to her NYC apartment she ended her own life by jumping out her window.
    I was lucky to have had her in my life as a child and remember our summers on Cape Cod listening to her sing and play guitar down at the beach. She was a true flower child and before her illness took hold of her she was a pure ray of sunshine to anyone she spent time with. Debbie loved animals especially horses. She grew up in Texas and once brought her horse into her bedroom for the night because there was severe weather in her area.
    I have a few copies of her album Debbie sings songs from the tv show Captain Kangaroo. BTW the Captain was a mean man and terrible to work for so that might be the reason nobody wanted to save his stuff but instead wanted to forget him. Maria, if you read this ..which sister are you the daugher of? I met two. My uncle is Jim C. I would love to talk with you and tell you about your aunt and what a wonderful special person she was to me. I was 13 when she passed away.

  • John

    Dear Erin,
    Thanks for the great memories. I am doing research to write a book about Debbie Weems. I have been in contact with Debbie’s family and am serious about writing a quality book about her. Please try to contact me if you can. John Thornton
    PS Dear Holly, I have Debbie’s album on CD.

  • joel sanoff

    I never knew Debbie Weems personally, but when I worked at CBS News in NYC back in the early ’70s, I would often see her there, since the Captain Kangaroo offices were there.

    I always thought she was an incredibly beautiful young woman and she radiated a real sweetness. Years later I would hear of the tragic end to her life and to this day I often think of her.

  • John Thornton

    Thank you Joel for your nice memories of Debbie Weems. Those kinds of stories keep reaching me. Debbie seems to have had a big effect on the people she interacted with. Her pesonality must have been something! It is interesting that if you google -“Debbie Weems” Thornton- you can find additional information about Debbie. Thanks again!

  • Steve

    I found a page on the internet and Debbie was in a movie called “Between the Lines” I never saw the movie so I don’t know too much about it. She had a small role in the film she played “Annie One” There was “annie one” and “annie two” She was Annie One.


  • Patty Dermody

    To everyone who has written about Debbie Weems. Debbie and I were school mates at Interlochen Arts Academy from 1965-1968 when we both graduated and left to go after our dreams. I followed her career until the announcement of her death in the school alumni paper from Interlochen. I must say very few deaths have ever impacted me more than hers. She was the very first acquaintance I met at the school at 15 years of age. She was singing in her room and I followed the voice over to say hi. We went on to be in several plays together and I have some great photos and memories of her. She was definately one of our most talented Drama majors at the school. We spent many hours talking about her family in Texas and it was a big group. If anyone has any news to share about her I would love to hear from you. Waiting to hear….

    Patty Dermody

  • John Thornton

    Hello Patty Dermody,

    Thanks for sharing about Debbie. I would love to contact you to learn more.

    John Thornton

  • Chris

    If anyone has any video of Debbie on Captain Kangaroo from the 1970`s please contact me.
    I have a few shows I would be willing to trade for a copy.


    [Personal contact info deleted]

  • If you search Amazon.com and Ebay you will find some out of print VHS tapes that were released around 1985. One of them is titled “Captain Kangaroo and Friends”.
    These have compilations of clips from the shows but not the show as originally aired.
    I was fortunate enough to find a CBS copy of the Capt. Kangaroo show with Dolly Pardon as a guest star. It was taped in 1976 by a big time Dolly fan. I think it was on one of the early VHS machines, not Beta. I also found the final broadcast from 1984.
    I am searching for any Captain Kangaroo shows from 1971 to 1984. If anybody has the 70`s shows with Debbie on or any others please let me know.
    There has got to be more tapes out there!!
    I am a die-hard collector of Capt. Kangaroo shows as you can probably tell.


  • Rick

    I have 3 complete eps.2 from 1961 one from 1968.All are kinescopes/

  • There are more shows out there after all, YES!!!!

    I recently found a guy who has a kinescope from 1967, a color show he says is from 1968 but the date may be wrong?? also a 1978 show from VHS.

    It wont be til next week before I get the stuff but I am excited at this point!!


  • Peter Moran

    Dear John,

    To the best of my knowledge, Debbie Weems
    ended her life by jumping from a sixteenth-floor
    hotel window on February 22, 1978 at the age of
    only 27 years old.


  • Susan Winokur Platt

    I too was a close friend of Debbie Weems at Interlochen Arts Academy during high school. We had some visits the next two or three years after high school, as I went to college in Texas and she was from Texas. She touched many many people in her short life. Her suicide, as described by others on this blog is accurate as far as I have been know. So which sister is Maria a daughter of? Kathy, her older sister? And if so, does anyone know how I could find Kathy? Thanks – Susan
    P.S.Hi Patty!

  • Erin

    I met Kathy once, she was a very talented artist and lived in the mountains of Colorado. I have a few of her drawings on greating cards. I would have no idea if she is still there.
    Debbie was in her own apartment when she took her life. Her doctor had made the trip home, with her,to collect additional clothes and pick up bills. He was down picking up take food when she jumped.
    I saw Debbie in two plays, Morning In A Funny Hat summer stock at the Falmouth Play House on Cape Cod and in God Spell in New York.
    My uncle has hundreds of photos of her, them together. I will approach him for additional detail but I don’t know how receptive he will be. He is a fairly private person.

    • Jim

      Erin, any updates on the photos of Debbie? very few photographs exist of here except for a signed picture from the 70’s published online (I believe that’s the only one).


  • Gary

    I grew up with Debbie in MarlinTX. Class of 68. All the boys in our little town were crazy about her uber beautiful older sister Kathy, but I knew the very special talent that was DW. She was a huge part of my life growing up and I think about her often.
    Many people never knew that her dad ,Posh, was in LBJ’s inner sanctum. Indeed, the Johnson’s used to show up at Debbie’s house in Marlin for Sunday dinner in the late 60’s.

  • What a surprise to find all this interest in Debbie!

    Debbie and I were cousins – actually step cousins. Her step father, Posh Oltorf, and my mother were first cousins, so that makes Debbie and me… what?

    Anyway we considered ourselves cousins. We were within months of the same age and her older sister and my older brother were about the same age also, so we were pretty close growing up.

    The thing I remember most about Debbie is how she energized a room just with her presence. I always felt inspired when she was around. “Inspired” is not quite the right word, but she filled you with a felling of optimism, happiness, and energy. Her sisters Kathy and Rowene were the same way, but not to the extent of Debbie.

    I’ve sometimes wondered if that didn’t contribute to her demise. Maybe those around her were unknowingly sucking the life from her like kryptonite. I hope not, but still I wonder.

    I loved Debbie, and I miss her still. I still can’t understand what happened. There was nothing about the Debbie that I knew that ever suggested such a tormented soul.

  • Susan

    My children grew up with songs from Captain Kangaroo and the two they remember are “Fur, Feathers, Scales, Shells, or Skin” and also “It’s Raining and It’s Pouring Pingpong Balls”. Does anyone know where I can find those songs? Are they on an album?

  • Cheri Harkins Ferrari

    I knew her casually at Interlochen. My family originated near her home town, and she was so friendly and interested – just in tune with me, when we would chat that it caused me to follow her career. Seeing her on Captain Kangaroo, and pointing her out to my own daughter – it was such a joy, and then suddenly, she disappeared! It’s been years, and now I understand…someone I knew so casually, and she left such an impact on so many. It’s just sad, still sad.

  • Jim

    Does anyone know where in NYC Debbie took her life? I’ve been researching her but can’t find any mention of her passing in NYC on 2/22/1978.

    I know this is a touchy subject but please understand my intentions are sincere.