Litkicks Message Board Archive

now I find out it is not entirely accurate

Posted to Poetry and Politics

from OM's blog site, Posted on Monday, January 26, 2004 - 09:14 am:

Sorry Jim,
Only parts of the above story are true. It looks like it's been floating around for a while.

Captain Kangaroo Court

Claim: Lee Marvin, actor, and Bob Keeshan, television's "Captain Kangaroo," fought together at the battle for Iwo Jima.
Status: False.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Dialog from a Tonight Show... Johnny Carson...His guest was Lee Marvin.
Johnny said..."Lee, I'll bet a lot of people are unaware that you were a Marine in the initial landing at Iwo Jima...and that during the course of that action you earned the Navy Cross and were severely wounded."

And you know how Lee was..."Yeah, yeah...I got shot square in the ass and they gave me the Cross for securing a hot spot about halfway up Suribachi. Bad thing about getting shot up on a mountain is guys gettin' shot hauling you down. But Johnny at Iwo I served under the bravest man I ever knew...We both got the Cross the same day but what he did for his Cross made mine look cheap in comparison. The dumb bastard actually stood up on Red Beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. That Sgt. and I have been life long friends...When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sgt. and he lit a smoke and passed it to me lying on my belly on the litter..."Where'd they get you Lee?"...."Well Bob...if you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse."..... "Johnny, I'm not lying...Sgt. Keeshan was the bravest man I ever Knew - Bob Keeshan....

You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo."

Variations: A
later version tacked on a prologue about Lee Marvin's burial in Arlington National Cemetery:

Many people have always been a bit offended that Lee Marvin is buried in a grove of 3 and 4 star generals at Arlington. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service (USMC). Nothing else.
I thought to myself, damn here's a guy who was only a famous movie star who served his time, why the heck does he rate burial with these guys? Well, following is the amazing answer:

I always liked Lee Marvin, but did not know the extent of his Corps experiences. Including award of the Navy Cross. There is only one higher award...the Medal Of Honor.

Origins: We can't say for sure whether actor Lee Marvin ever related something like the story described above to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show (Marvin was a guest on the show seven times during Carson's tenure as host), but the details of the anecdote are undeniably false.
Lee Marvin did enlist in the U.S. Marines, saw action as Private First Class in the Pacific during World War II, and was wounded (in the buttocks) by fire which severed his sciatic nerve. However, this injury occurred during the battle for Saipan in June 1944, not the battle for Iwo Jima, which took place several months later, in February 1945. (Marvin also did receive a Purple Heart, and he is indeed buried at Arlington National Cemetery.)

Bob Keeshan, later famous as television's "Captain Kangaroo," also enlisted in the U.S. Marines, but too late to see any action during World War II. Keeshan was born on 27 June 1927 and enlisted two weeks before his 18th birthday, months too late to have taken part in the fighting at Iwo Jima. A 1997 interview with Keeshan noted that he "later enlisted in the U.S. Marines but saw no combat" because, as Keeshan said, he signed up "just before we dropped the atom bomb."

In 2003 someone thought to throw Mr. Rogers into the mix by add the following bit to the existing e-mail about Lee Marvin and Bob Keeshan:

On another note, there was this wimpy little man (who just passed away) on PBS, gentle and quiet. Mr. Rogers is another of those you would least suspect of being anything but what he now portrays to our youth. But Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long sleeve sweater to cover the many tattoo's on his forearm and biceps. A master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. He hid that away and won our hearts with his quiet wit and charm. America's real heroes don't flaunt what they did, they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst. Often, they are the ones you'd least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happened.
Numerous rumors about children's host Mr. Rogers having a violent or criminal past have been bandied about for years, but there is nothing to any of them. As our Mr. Rogers page explains, Fred Rogers never served in the military.

Last updated: 13 January 2004

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