Gut Rumbles

September 14, 2010

Captain Kangaroo

Originally published October 2, 2002

Captain Kangaroo was one of my favorite people when I was a child. I spent many a morning listening to his jingling keys as he strolled around the Treasure House in his uniform, with Grandfather Clock, Mr. Moose, Mr. Greenjeans and his other companions, including Tom Terriffic and Mighty Manfred The Wonderdog. Crabby Appleton was always "rotten to the core" in the cartoons. I miss those days of innocence, and I was delighted when my mama sent me an interesting email. I knew that Lee Marvin was a decorated Marine in WWII. But I didn't know the REST OF THE STORY.

Captain Kangaroo turned 75 recently, which is odd, because he's never looked a day under 75 (Birthday 6/27/27). It reminded me of the following story.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Some people have been a bit offended that Lee Marvin is buried in a grave alongside 3 and 4 star generals at Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service(USMC). Nothing else. Here's a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time; why the heck does he rate burial with these guys?

Well, following is the amazing answer: I always liked Lee Marvin, but did not know the extent of his Corps experiences. In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces, often in rear-echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine Hero. He won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award...the Medal Of Honor.

If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery. Dialog From The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson: His guest was Lee Marvin.

Johnny said, "Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima... and that during the
course of that action you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded." "Yeah, yeah... I got shot square in the ass and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi...bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys gettin' shot hauling you down. But Johnny, at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever knew... We both got the Cross the same day, but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison. The dumb bastard actually stood up on Red beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant, and he lit a smoke and passed it to me lying on my belly on the litter and said, 'Where'd they get you, Lee?'

Well, Bob... if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse! Johnny, I'm not lying...Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew..... Bob Keeshan...

You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."

And on the show, he couldn't outfox Bunny Rabbit. Go figure...

UPDATE: I was curious, so I Googled and found THIS. The story is a good one, but it ain't true!

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