Edward G. White: Captain Kangaroo (opening)

June 28, 2007

In honor of Robert Keeshan and a childhood memory, I post this ancient TV clip. It’s from the opening of Captain Kangaroo, a children’s TV host that I watched faithfully as a boy. I LOVED this part with all the doors. The only part you don’t see here is that when he puts his keys on the hook, the music stops instantly. The music is by Clark Gessner (1938 – 2002) who provided all the incidental music for the series. Gessner studied at Princeton. I can’t help wondering whether he was a student of Professor Babbitt, or a classmate of Sondheim.The music is by Edward G. White and the piece is called “Puffin’ Billy”:

Puffin’ Billy in particular, is a theme tune that has developed iconic quality. Perhaps due to its extremely long run (fourteen years, including almost all of the 1950s) as the signature of the ‘Children’s Favourites’ radio request programme, it has become associated with that historical period, and is frequently used in other media as a signifier of ‘1950s Middle England’. Puffin’ Billy was also used as the signature tune for ‘Captain Kangaroo’ and is only known as such to a large audience of television viewers.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

PK June 28, 2007 at 3:58 am

Roger, I may be wrong (but I won’t be wrong always!) but I believe that Mssr. Gessner may have provided that slightly turgid version of a bit of British “light” music (originally describing a locomotive named Puffin Billy), ascribed to one Edward White. It was used on a well known Brit children’s radio show, from which it might have been lifted.

Roger Bourland June 28, 2007 at 6:20 am

PK: I changed the spelling to YOURS with 2 esses, although IMDB has him with only 1 s. Gessner is known for penning the musical YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN. But I don’t see any other reference to the “Puffin Billy” song you IDed above. Maybe Edward White actually IS the composer of this opening. Or is a pseudonym? Hmm, I’ll keep looking.

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