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Goodnight, Mr. Bunny Rabbit.
August 8, 2013 1:28 AM   Subscribe

Cosmo Allegretti, who created and voiced puppet characters like Grandfather Clock and Dancing Bear on the children's television show "Captain Kangaroo," has died. He was 86.

Other characters voiced or acted by Allegretti included Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Mister Moose, Rollo the Hippopotamus, Miss Worm, Cornelius the Walrus, Dennis the Apprentice, et. al. Mefites over a certain age will remember the carrots that Mr. Bunny rabbit continually swindled and bouncing ping-pong balls that fell in response to corny knock-knock jokes from Mr. Moose.
posted by pjern (31 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was just telling someone about Mr. Bunny Rabbit! He's in some of my earliest memories. I hope the afterlife has as many carrots as a puppeteer would like.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:54 AM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suppose it falls to me to be the one to say... PING-PONG BALLS?
posted by JHarris at 2:54 AM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by Gelatin at 3:02 AM on August 8, 2013


.....
....................
...........................
(a pile of ping pong balls for Mr. Moose)
posted by briank at 3:30 AM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Godspeed, Mr. Moose.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:21 AM on August 8, 2013


I loved Bunny Rabbit!
It seems Mr. Allegretti created a huge chunk of my childhood.

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posted by Thorzdad at 4:32 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was strange tension on that show between the desire to produce quality children's programming and to be commercially successful for the network. It predated Sesame Street and Mister Rogers by more than a decade but had a quiet, friendly feel about it with running gags and recurrent characters that was somewhat similar. Mr. Allegretti was a key player in the Treasure House...

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posted by jim in austin at 4:46 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was so bloodcurdlingly afraid of Grandfather Clock that Mom used to have to drag me shaking and whimpering into her favorite antique store, and I was too scared to even tell her why. But oh, how I loved Cornelius. What a comfort it would have been to know they were voiced by the same actor.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:11 AM on August 8, 2013


I was so bloodcurdlingly afraid of Grandfather Clock...

Yeah...I seem to recall having certain trepidations about Grandfather Clock as well. I'm not really sure what it was about it, but he was definitely a character I did not want to be alone in the room with.

Well, him and maybe Mr. Greenjeans, too...
posted by Thorzdad at 5:16 AM on August 8, 2013


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posted by radwolf76 at 5:19 AM on August 8, 2013


I used to love the ping-pong ball drop and the expression on the Captain's face every time it happened.

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posted by lordrunningclam at 5:31 AM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


My first favorite TV show. Of course, "The Wire" is better, yes.
posted by thelonius at 5:35 AM on August 8, 2013


Just after college I worked at a big bookstore that had a signing for Kangaroo's book. It was surprisingly moving to see him in the flesh, after all those years.
posted by thelonius at 5:37 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The original Mrs. Doubtfire?

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posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:43 AM on August 8, 2013


My first favorite TV show. Of course, "The Wire" is better, yes.

I don't know. I can see Stringer Bell's growing ambition mirrored in Mr. Bunny Rabbit's insatiable desire for carrots. I suggest we not take this analogy too far, though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 AM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by ob1quixote at 5:53 AM on August 8, 2013


^^^
posted by jquinby at 6:24 AM on August 8, 2013


Oh my lord. [Shakes head]

No show, no thing, not comic books, not micronauts or Fisher-Price, influenced me more or for a longer period of my life than Captain Kangaroo.

Now that I appreciate parenting—whereas before I was the one being parented—I understand what Captain Kangaroo was for my parents. It was a safe AM baby-sitter. Television was still new enough then (late-60s when I started with the Captain) to be considered dependable, reliable.

I would have a bowl of cereal, something with sugar, and then sit in the living room (or Florida room at my Nana's) and just go into the show. Mr Moose was hilarious. Grandfather clock was indeed sort of intimidating—like a real, very old person, in a way—but I adored Bunny Rabbit. One of my first loves, I'm sure.

Cosmo Allegretti as the housepainter had a place in my life as well. My step-father was a housepainter. Cosmo even looked liked my stepfather, dark hair, Italian features, white paint clothes covered with paint. It mattered. I loved them both.

Beyond this, there was something safe about the show that had me keep on watching until highschool (then the 1980's). I remember it being re-worked, I remember it not coming back. Somehow, I kind of expected it. Of course, now a teenager, my tastes had changed but I was there all the way through.

Growing up, Captain Kangaroo was one of the most dependable but welcome facets of my developing young self. I do not regret one moment of the time I spent together with that friendly, happy show. Whoever I am now, and whoever I become owes a debt of gratitude to Captain Kangaroo, and by extension Cosmo Allegretti.

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posted by Mike Mongo at 7:01 AM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mr. Moose was kind of a dick
posted by thelonius at 7:04 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, goodness. Oh my. Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. I'd forgotten that little victory dance they did, and the Niagara Falls joke. Thanks, ob1quixote!

In fact, it was years before I knew that Niagara Falls was actually a geographical *thing*. It just kept showing up in jokes in children's programming and, even having no idea what the heck it was, I loved it.

It might not be a great exaggeration to say that the Captain took care of me during most of the mornings of my young life, and Bunny Rabbit was my best buddy.

Bye, Bunny Rabbit.

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posted by allthinky at 7:19 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man, this guy was Dancing Bear. I loved Dancing Bear.

THis is pathetic. Gen X weepy nostalgia fest. But I can't help it.
posted by thelonius at 7:26 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


> It was a safe AM baby-sitter.

Bunny Rabbit safe? Not for a heartbeat. I did not fear Bunny Rabbit, but I knew better than to turn my back on him even for a moment. Keep those paws where I can see 'em, BR.
posted by jfuller at 7:29 AM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


.

So, as of right now, Mr. Moose and Mr. Bunny Rabbit have Wikipedia pages but Cosmo Allegretti does not. I find that weird and may change that, but it is also, as I think more about it, a nice tribute to his memory.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:02 AM on August 8, 2013


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posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2013


allthinky: the Niagara Falls joke. Thanks, ob1quixote!

In fact, it was years before I knew that Niagara Falls was actually a geographical *thing*. It just kept showing up in jokes in children's programming and, even having no idea what the heck it was, I loved it.
I don't recall it from Capt Kangaroo, but if you're referring to the bit where one guy goes a bit ...intense, bordering on psycho - every time "Niagara Falls" is mentioned, as though it drags up a horrible, dark memory - that's actually an Abbot & Costello sketch.

Which makes Capt. Kangaroo even more like Sesame Street, appropriating pop culture, knowing children love the mysterious adult world, but really want it laden with meaning for their lives.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:37 AM on August 8, 2013


oh, my tiny little baby heart just broke a bit more than it had been already.

Goodnight, Mr. Allegretti. Thank you for the smiles you gave us.


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posted by batmonkey at 10:55 AM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've mentioned before that I was BORN the Friday before the Monday that "Captain Kangaroo" debuted. (And I deeply regret being AFK when Bob Keeshan died)

At least the creator of Tom Terrific, Gene Deitch is still alive (and was a Guest of Honor at SDCC this year, as he should be)

The only other pre-Muppets TV puppeteer still alive and well is Stan Freberg, who did the voice (and whose arm was the neck) of Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent on "Time for Beany" (BEFORE it was a cartoon) and whose 87th birthday was featured on Evanier's blog (as he is every year).
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:24 AM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid, it never occurred to me the reason why Bunny Rabbit didn't speak and why the two puppets moved so well in unison was because one guy operated them both. Each one had a distinct personality. I thought Mr. Moose ruled. Cosmo Allegretti ruled. Peace, man.

The absolute weirdest thing featured on Captain Kangaroo, by the way, was the Banana Man who, I learned years later, was an aging vaudevillian (actually, two at different times) who spent his entire career going "Woooowww!" in crazy falsetto while pulling bananas out of his overcoat. When they talk about the Good Old Days, I think this is what they're referring to.
posted by Spatch at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The ping pong ball drop always confused me. Where did the balls fall from, and who picked them up afterwards?
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2013


It's perfect child humor, charlie don't surf, just like throwing all your legos/lincoln logs/cheerios/pick-up sticks all over the floor. It just happened! No one did it! Certainly not me!

And no one has to pick them up, because that's still 5 seconds in the future!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2013


Well, there goes a dear old childhood friend, and I never knew his name until now. So long, Mister Moose, so long Bunny Rabbit, so long Dancing Bear. So long, Cosmo Allegretti
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 PM on August 11, 2013


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