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Monday, June 12, 2017

Captain Kangaroo Mister Rogers and Lee Marvin...Fighting Machines?!

Kangaroo, Rogers and Marvin
     Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was an American film and television actor known for his distinctive voice and prematurely white hair. Marvin initially appeared in supporting roles, mostly villains, soldiers, and other hard-boiled characters. From 1957 to 1960, he starred as Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger in the NBC crime series, M Squad.
     In an appearance on the Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson, Carson commented that a lot of people were unaware that Marvin was a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima, was severely wounded and earned the Navy Cross
     Marvin replied that, “Yeah, I got shot square in the ass and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi.” Marvin also related that on Iwo Jima he had served under the bravest man he ever knew and they both got the Cross the same day, but what the other fellow did made Marvin's “look cheap in comparison.” 
     The other fellow stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward. That sergeant and Marvin became life long friends. The other fellow was Bob Keeshan who later became Captain Kangaroo. It's was a nice story, but not altogether true. 
     Marvin left school at 18 to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on August 12, 1942. He served with the 4th Marine Division in the Pacific Theater during World War II. While serving as a member of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, he was wounded in action on June 18, 1944 during the assault on Mount Tapochau in the Battle of Saipan, during which most of his company were casualties. He was shot by machine gun fire which severed his sciatic nerve and then was hit again in the foot by a sniper. 
     In later life, Marvin was a Democrat who opposed the Vietnam War, but publicly endorsed John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery where his headstone reads "Lee Marvin, PFC, US Marine Corps, World War II".   See Comet Over Hollywood for more details.
     About that Navy Cross award... the website, Marine Corps Navy Cross Recipients lists two Marvins who received the award:  2nd Lt. Milton Marvin and Sgt. Glen Marvin.  Sorry, no Lee Marvin and no Keeshans of any kind!
     Bob Keeshan (June 27, 1927 – January 23, 2004) was an American television producer and actor. He played the original Clarabell the Clown on the Howdy Doody television program and later created and played the title role in the children's television program Captain Kangaroo, which ran from 1955 to 1984, the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day. 
     After an early graduation from Forest Hills High School in Queens, New York, in 1945, during World War II, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve two weeks before his 18th birthday, but was still in the United States when Japan surrendered. In a 1997 interview, Keeshan himself stated that he enlisted in the Marines but saw no combat because he signed up just before the atomic bomb ended the war. 
     Then there was Mister (Fred) Rogers, a US Navy Seal sniper and a combat veteran in the Vietnam War with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore the long sleeve sweaters to cover the many tattoo’s on his forearm and biceps. He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. 
     It was said that Fred Rogers began his television career as a result of his being convicted of child molestation; one condition of his sentence was that he fulfill a community service obligation by performing a television show for children on a local public station. This circumstance explains the lack of children on his program. All not true. 
     The truth is, Mister Rogers never did serve in the military; he went straight into college after high school and then into TV work after graduating from college. His breaks from television were not the result of military service...he was attending the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963. He also attended the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. 
     Besides, Rogers was born in 1928 and was way too old to have served in Vietnam which lasted from 1965 to 1972. Children did appear at times on the show, but only rarely because the difficulties of working with very young children on scripted television shows was simply too difficult.  
     Moral of the story: you can't believe EVERYTHING that comes out of Hollywood.

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