Guests at an engagement party last weekend also got an up-close look at memorabilia from one of America’s most beloved children’s TV programs. The party was held on June 15 at Creekridge, the home of Allan and Janie Jones, for Bradley Banks and Laura Pratt, who will marry on Oct. 26.
The event was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Jones, as well as Dr. and Mrs. Paul H. Bacon Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Scott Taylor. The highlight of the party centered around several pieces of memorabilia from the “Captain Kangaroo” children’s program which Jones acquired in May at an auction by the Nate D. Sanders Auction House in Los Angeles. The transaction was kept secret until the party. The program aired on weekday mornings from Oct. 3 1955, to Dec. 8, 1984 — nearly 30 years — which made it the longest running national children’s show in history.
Jones said guests at the party had no idea in advance that the memorabilia would be featured and were surprised when the Wizard came walking out, followed by an actor wearing Captain Kangaroo’s navy blue jacket, as well as the Captain’s blonde wig with sideburns. Both were worn on every episode of the program from 1955 until 1971.
In the character’s hands were the famous keys to the Treasure House. “The keys were a beloved part of the show’s opening as Captain Kangaroo unlocked the door to his Treasure House and then hung the keys on their hook on the table,” said Jones. “When the keys were hung, the music would then stop and the show would start.” The keys appeared in every episode of the show’s first decade, from 1955 to 1965.
Jones said the biggest reaction of the engagement party came when an actor appeared wearing the Dancing Bear costume, complete with a black bow tie.
The Dancing Bear was one of three main characters of the Captain Kangaroo program, along with Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. According to Nate Sanders, the value of Dancing Bear’s costume increased prior to the May auction due to the fact that the Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit puppets had already been donated to the Smithsonian Institute — and will never be for sale.
“Dancing Bear is the only main character left, which is why the auction generated nationwide interest and resulted in a last-minute bidding frenzy,” said Sanders. “The ‘Captain Kangaroo’ event was one of the most anticipated television celebrity auctions of the last 30 years. It is very rare that anyone gets the chance to acquire items like these.”
The Dancing Bear’s entrance at the engagement party began when the estate filled with the sound of the original “Captain Kangaroo” theme song, an instrumental actually written in 1954 by Edward G. White titled “Puffin Billy.” The title referred to a British steam locomotive. The song, performed by the Melodi Light Orchestra, was actually used for several other program as well, including the BBC radio program “Children’s Favorites” and another radio program called “Rocky Fortune.”
The theme song was a beloved element to the program, as the music would start whenever the Captain’s keys slipped off the hook on the door.
Jones ended the evening by saying, “Very few of the kids here tonight even know who Captain Kangaroo is, but when you go home and tell your parents, they will love it!”