A Case of Mistaken Identity

        Y’all remember Captain Kangaroo?  For those of you too young, he was a kindly but somewhat dorky gentleman who was a staple on U.S. morning television in the ’50s.  Captain wore a double breasted suit and had a bowl cut head of gray hair, a droopy mustache and a physique charitably akin to Santa Clause.  Never mind any of that, though, all the kids dug him.  He was quite popular.

        His show was sort of a children’s variety hour with stories, songs, and cartoons.  We all loved him, but I suspect if the Captain were still living even he would have to concede his popularity was not based on sex appeal.

        Not long ago, Marfar and I took in a mandolin event at Sandhills University, a mandolin orchestra show put on by my old friend Butch Baldassari.  (If not familiar, go back and read “Band Together for Butch; he is dealing with medical troubles right now.)

        We got there early to shake and howdy backstage and then went out to look for our seats.  I was with my wife, who is still a charmer and younger than me.  The young lady escorting us to our seats looked and me and said, “Sir, you look familiar.  Do I know you from somewhere?”

        Now, this was not the least bit threatening to me.  I am 100% faithful to my lovely Marfar.  I had nothing to hide, but I couldn’t begin to think of anywhere I might have run into this young woman.

        At the same time, I’m not so old I can’t pick a pretty girl out of a line-up, and this was an attractive young woman.  I have to admit I was flattered by the attention and figured she most likely knew me from my travels with Neuse River.  We had opened several shows for some name acts in the area, so I thought that must be it, and offered a possible explanation.

        “Maybe you’ve seen me with my band, Neuse River.”  I figured she probably was a college student who worked the venue on a regular basis.  “I’m their mandolin player.”

        She studied my features for a moment.  “No, that’s not it.”  Then the light bulb came on.  “Now I know.  Has anyone ever told you you look like Captain Kangaroo?”

          We went to our seats.  I was too embarrassed to ask her how such a young’un had ever heard of Captain Kangaroo.  My wife draped an arm over my shoulder and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  No words were needed.

          So much for old mandolin players, sex appeal, and a mistaken identity for Captain Kangaroo.  Not that it ain’t always been that way, but I’d better hold onto my wife and day job for dear life.

Dr. B

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19 Comments on “A Case of Mistaken Identity”

  1. Corina Says:

    Bob Keeshan played Captain Kangaroo. I remember him from watching in the 60’s. He was still on when my son was little in the early 80’s so if the young lady was anywhere in her mid 20’s and older, she could well have watched the Captain as a child.

    At least she thought you looked like someone nice and positive. Just think if she had confused you for a villainous character! And she didn’t refer to your wife as your daughter! Now THAT would have really been depressing!

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Hey Corina,

    I didn’t realize Captain Kangaroo was on the air that long. It’s funny, as a kid I thought he was old- he probably was barely middle aged. And it is possible the young lady was as old as thirty- everybody looks young to me nowadays. I guess perception is reality, huh?

    I took comfort at your last thought. Marfar might have never let me live that down! It could have happened too- she is a little younger, but looks very much so.

    There is a bluegrass song that starts out “Corina, Corina..” I’ll have to look up the words- knew ’em at one time. Thanks for dropping in, and come back and visit.

    Dr. B

  3. johnchap Says:

    Isn’t it possible that more than one actor played the Captain over the years – and maybe the young lady mistook you for the handsome one of the 80s, not the puddingy one you remember from the 50s!

  4. drtombibey Says:

    GREAT thought John. I knew running into you was fortuitous. Now I wonder who that young lady was! (just kidding on that- I’ve got three mandolins but I am a one woman man.) You are right- there musta been a dark haired dashing Captain somewhere.

    I’ve got a show coming up and I am going to hold that thought. Perception is reality you know.

    As a retired actor, John Chapman brings a fine perspective to the table. Y’all check in on The Pedlar’s weblog- he is a very smart man.

    Dr. B

  5. Corina Says:

    No. Bob Keeshan was the only Captain Kangaroo from start to finish (1952 to 1985). I did see him in the 80’s and he looked the same as when I watched him growing up in the 60’s. Either he never aged or someone did a fine job with makeup!

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ah Ms. Corina, reality is reality and perception is perception, huh?

    Dr. B

  7. johnchap Says:

    Sorry my theory didn’t wash!

    On a point of accuracy – I’m an actor, but not retired – yet. In fact I’m off tomorrow to perform in a modern passion play in which I am God (I am not a religious man – it is just another part as far as I am concerned; so no delusions of grandeur …)

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Oh well, John it was fun while it lasted. (Oh captain, my captain or something like that- I get all my stream of consciousness tangled up if you get outside of medicine or bluegrass.)

    I am eventually gonna get all this right. We get a British sit com type channel my wife watches some. Keep us posted on your parts- My weblog could be the official start of the U.S. chapter of the John Chapman fan club.

    For me I have to admit I’m kinda religious. I studied science like a wild man, and never did figure out much. Childlike faith I guess- I’m just a big kid.

    Dr. B

  9. johnchap Says:

    Afraid it is all rather confusing. The John Chapman whose name you have seen on a sitcom isn’t me; in fact, it was because of him that I had to take another name when I joined Actors Equity – so my professional name is John Nicholas (from my grandmother’s maiden name).

    Now I’ve got you thoroughly muddled – so you can just call me Johnnie Appleseed if you like….

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Lord have mercy. I am all mixed up! Keep us posted on all your aliases and roles- a complicated man but that is all good.

    Dr. B

  11. mrschili Says:

    I’m 39, and I remember Captain Kangaroo. I also remember the moose and the ping-pong balls. I was essentially raised by the television set, so I’ve got a pretty strong grasp on the programming of the 70’s and 80’s…

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Well mrschili all I can say is I hope you found the Captain to be a kindly father-like figure. If so, I can be at peace with the opinion of the young lady, Ms. Corina, and the English Teacher. Three woman can’t be wrong, and if y’all are O.K. with Captain Kangaroo I reckon I am too.

    Now Marfar still sees me as a dark haired young doctor. (I hope.)

    Dr. B

  13. katkmeanders Says:

    Hey! Captain Kangaroo was popular in the ’70s too! I grew up watching him on PBS, along with Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. *smile*

  14. drtombibey Says:

    Mercy. From what y’all say, the Old Captain must have been all of twenty-five when I was watching him.

    Dr. B

  15. katkmeanders Says:

    I think he was older than Mr. Rogers when he started, actually. He just…er, aged better? Let me look it up on Wikipedia to see how old he was when he started, why don’t I? Ok, it ran from 1955 to 1984, and he (Bob Keeshan) was born in 1927. (But he looked about like he did when he started in the 70s when I watched his show, he didn’t really wrinkle etc.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Kangaroo

  16. katkmeanders Says:

    Pardon! I am much mistaken. Captain Kangaroo took a hiatus from 1984 to 1985, then resumed on PBS in 1986. It stopped airing in 1993. Wow, I could have sworn it was PBS that I watched it on, but I guess not! *blush* I knew it was on PBS when I was babysitting, and I guess that is what mixed my memory up.

  17. drtombibey Says:

    You know what the coolest thing about wordpress is? If you want to know what Captain Kangaroo’s favorite soft drink was someone on the web can probably tell you.

    Here’s some T.V. bluegrass trivia for you guys. Who was the first mandolin player on the Andy Griffith show?

    A: Everyone thinks it was Dean Webb of the Dillards (the Darling family) but I believe it was Roland White of the Kentucky Colonels.

    Roland and his brother Clarence were Maine French Canadians who somehow got interested in bluegrass music and wound up in L.A. for a while. (I’ll bet that is a story in and of itself) If Clarence had not been killed in an accident at a young age, a whole lot more folks would have heard of him- he played guitar with the Byrds for a while. He was an early flat-pick guitar genius.

    Little Roland White is still going strong, and is not only a fine mandolin man, but a prince of a fellow.

    Captain Kangaroo was not a bluegrass man that I know of (someone out there might know otherwise) but he was a good’un nonetheless.

    Dr. B

  18. pandemonic Says:

    Oh, MY! Captain Kangaroo? I’m rendered speechless!

  19. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    Sadly, there just ain’t that much one can say about middle-aged, gray haired, and essential dorkiness.

    I do hope you’ll keep reading my blog, ’cause I enjoy your visits.

    And honestly I don’t know how the child thought that. The Captain’s got me a good fifty pounds, and eight inches on the waistline. Alas, perception is back to reality, though.

    Dr. B


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