October 3, 2013
On this day in 1955, Captain Kangaroo debuted on television.
The Captain Kangaroo Show starred Captain Phillip Kangaroo, a World War Two veteran who distinguished himself in the Pacific Theater of operations. During the Battle of Midway, then-Private Kangaroo shoot down five Japanese zeroes and one Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, thereby becoming an ace on his very first mission.
Pvt. Kangaroo was active in many nighttime operations, often carrying out sensitive reconnaissance missions. It was on one of those missions that he was shot down over Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands. Captured by the Japanese army, Pvt. Kangaroo was first classified as a p.o.w., but in 1946 was mistakenly listed as dead when a US recon team landed on Vella Lavella and found his flight jacket beside a pile of human bones. It was not until 1948 that the bones were discovered to be the remains of a Pacific Islander to whom Pvt. Kangaroo had generously given his jacket.
After the war, Japan returned Pvt. Kangaroo, along with other prisoners, and Pvt. Kangaroo was bumped up several ranks to Captain.
Beginning in 1955, The Captain Kangaroo Show was a political affairs program that aired early Sunday mornings. Always topical and frequently controversial, The Captain Kangaroo show featured the political pundits and newsmakers of his day. Notable episodes included Kangaroo’s passionate defense of the Vietnam War, and Mr. Green Jeans getting shot at Kent State in 1970.