For decades, there has been a persistent rumor that Captain Kangaroo’s Bob Keeshan saw active combat during World War II. However, these rumors are far from the truth! Many blame the spread of these rumors on a supposed talk-show appearance made by actor Lee Marvin. During the appearance, Lee allegedly claimed that he fought on Iwo Jima alongside Bob, and that Bob saved his life. Though Lee saw active combat during the war, Bob didn’t, and there is no evidence of Lee ever having actually made this claim. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Bob Keeshan is not the military hero you thought he was.
Did Bob Keeshan Fight in the Battle of Iwo Jima?
Over the course of Hollywood history, there have been many strange and unfounded rumors that have spread about notable celebrities. The most persistent of these rumors are generally ones that are innocuous enough to be real. One such false story that has been spread for decades is the tale that Bob Keeshan and Lee Marvin saw active combat together during World War II. Specifically, the tale goes that the two fought together on Iwo Jima, and that Bob saved Lee’s life. There is some truth to the rumor that Bob and Lee fought together during the war. Though Lee Marvin certainly saw active combat during World War II, Bob didn’t. However, Bob did enlist during the latter period of the war.
Bob Keeshan may have enlisted during the latter part of World War II, but he never saw any combat. Comparatively, Lee Marvin saw plenty of combat during the war and legitimately went on to win a Purple Heart for his service. Lee’s service led to the actor being buried amongst war heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. It’s undeniable that Lee was somewhat of a war hero, but what remains inexplicable is how Bob Keeshan became tied to his legacy.
Lee Marvin was a regular on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, with the actor making a total of seven appearances on the program over the course of it’s run. The rumors of Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan serving in the military together allegedly stemmed from one of these seven appearances. The story goes that Lee told a tale during one of these appearances where he alleged that not only did he see combat alongside Bob Keeshan on Iwo Jima, but that the Captain Kangaroo actor saved his life.
Where Did the Rumor Come From?
If Lee Marvin did legitimately tell this story on an episode of The Tonight Show, then there is no evidence of it. However, many have a hard time buying the story of Lee telling what would’ve been such a flagrant lie. Regardless of whether Lee told the story or not, the fact of the matter stands that Bob Keeshan did not see active combat during World War II. Not only that, but Lee Marvin was never on Iwo Jima. Though Lee was a war hero in his own right, the actor was never on the island of Iwo Jima and certainly never saw combat there.
Lee Marvin had no reason to be telling fibs about his time serving during World War II. The actor saw active combat, and went on to win a Purple Heart after being in a notable battle. However, the battle wasn’t the Battle of Iwo Jima! Instead, the battle that earned Lee Marvin his Purple Heart was the Battle of Saipan. Lee Marvin saw active combat during the battle, and ended up being shot in the butt! The actor was a little embarrassed about the incident, as he felt bad about having to have his fellow shoulders carry him around. According to the actor himself, he felt he wasn’t quite worthy of winning the Purple Heart Medal.
Lee Marvin served in the United States Marines. Towards the end of the war, Bob Keeshan also signed up for the United States Marines. However, it was too late for the future star to see combat. Soon after Bob enlisted, the war ended. It was after World War II that the performer began to make a name for himself on television. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
How Bob Keeshan Became a Television Star
After World War II ended, the first television shows started popping up. One of the very first television programs to make it on the air was Howdy Doody. This program also happened to be the show that gave Bob Keeshan his big break. Howdy Doody came on the air in 1947, and Bob got a job on the show playing the character of Clarabell the Clown in 1948. Bob Keeshan never got along with the star of Howdy Doody, but he was popular enough with the television audience that he continued to work in the industry after his time on the program came to an end. Bob resigned from Howdy Doody in 1952, and then got a gig playing a clown on another program in 1953. That program was called Time for Fun.
During Bob Keeshan’s days working on Time for Fun, the performer got the idea for his own show. He came up with a program called Tinker’s Workshop, where he played the titular character of Tinker. The program wasn’t all that dissimilar from Bob’s later and more popular creation, which would be Captain Kangaroo. In fact, the concept for Tinker’s Workshop led directly into the creation of Captain Kangaroo. When Tinker’s Workshop wasn’t the hit that Bob wanted it to be, he retooled the concept and turned it into Captain Kangaroo. Captain Kangaroo premiered on the CBS network in 1955, and it became an immediate hit with the kids!
The success of Captain Kangaroo led to Bob Keeshan getting his own cartoon around a decade later, but this cartoon only stuck around for a year. Meanwhile, Captain Kangaroo ended up lasting for over two decades. The first sign that Bob Keeshan might be ready to end his time as Captain Kangaroo occurred in 1981, when the performer suffered a pretty serious heart attack. The incident occurred while Bob was travelling to receive an award for his contributions to children’s programming. The heart attack resulted in the beloved performer having to undergo intensive surgery. While he was in the hospital, it was alleged that Bob received several thousands of positive wishes from his numerous fans. Given that this was a time well before the internet, that’s truly a staggering sum!
Bob Keeshan Hated Video-Game Violence
Miraculously, the heart attack didn’t end up doing Bob Keeshan in. The performer continued playing the role of Captain Kangaroo until 1984. However, his failing health made it so that the program had to be shortened from an hour to only 30 minutes. Bob Keeshan’s contract ran out in 1984, and he decided that he didn’t want to continue playing the role that had made him a household name. However, Bob continued performing in the world of children’s television for numerous years after Captain Kangaroo ended.
Though Captain Kangaroo came to an end in 1984, the show lived on in multiple ways. In 1985, there was a primetime special that was meant to serve as a capstone to the program for those that had grown up with it over the course of it’s nearly three decades on the air. Then, in 1987, the show started airing via reruns of PBS. With this move, the show was introduced to new generations. In 1985, Bob began hosting a program on CBS by the name of CBS Storybreak. The program ran until 1989. Bob began performing less and less into the 1990s, but he was still passionate about children’s media. During the decade, he became an activist against violence in video games. In fact, Bob contributed personal testimony during the hearings that led to the creation of the video-game rating system!
Bob Keeshan may not have seen active combat in the military, but his activism in the world of children’s media proved that he was a warrior when he wanted to be. In addition to campaigning against violence in video games during the 1990s, Bob had also spoken out against the abundance of children’s cartoon based on toy lines during the 1980s. According to Bob, shows such as Transformers and He-Man did nothing but teach children how to buy toys. However, this is ironic coming from a man who created a character on Captain Kangaroo by the name of “Mr. Schwinn Dealer” because he had a business partnership with the bicycle company. The most likely reason why Bob was so passionate about putting an end to the new media trends of the 1980s is because he feared that his time was up.
In 1996, Bob Keeshan made a cameo appearance in John Landis’ cult-classic family film The Stupids, which was based upon the classic children’s books of the same name. Less than a decade later, the performer would pass away. Bob was 76 years old when he passed away in January of 2004. The performer was only married one time over the course of his life, and his wife had passed away the same year that Bob made his cameo appearance in The Stupids. Bob Keeshan was survived by three children and buried in New York. Oddly, Bob Keeshan isn’t the only late children’s entertainer that is consistently rumored to have seen active combat in the military. There’s also a longstanding rumor that Mr. Rogers was a ruthless killer during the Vietnam War.
Lee Marvin may have seen active combat during World War II, but he didn’t fight alongside Bob Keeshan in the Battle of Iwo Jima! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that there’s a legend that Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan fought alongside each other during the Battle of Iwo Jima, and that parts of the legend are true? Comment down below!