Nate Sanders, owner of the Nate. D. Sanders auction house, announced that a handcrafted, screen-worn Dancing Bear costume from the popular American television series “Captain Kangaroo” brought $207,019 during the May 21 auction and is now on its way to the home of a Tennessee collector.
The “Captain Kangaroo” children's program aired weekday mornings from Oct. 3, 1955, to Dec. 8, 1984 — nearly 30 years — which made it the longest running national children's show in history.
Sanders said the popularity of the show with such a wide audience helped generate unprecedented interest in the Kangaroo auction.
“The Captain Kangaroo event was one of the most anticipated television celebrity auctions of the last 30 years," Sanders said. "It is very rare that anyone gets the chance to acquire items like these and when the auction was announced, people from all over the country took interest immediately."
Prior to the auction, collectors speculated that the prize item would be the famous keys to Captain Kangaroo's Treasure House. The keys were a beloved part of the show's opening as Captain Kangaroo unlocked the door to his Treasure House and then hung the keys on their hook near the door. The music would then stop and the show would start.
While the keys put on a strong performance during the auction - eventually selling for an impressive $27,971 and garnering 25 bids — it was the Dancing Bear costume that made the night one to remember forever.
"We knew Dancing Bear was incredibly popular, but everyone thought the keys would be the big ticket item of the night," Sanders said. "The results show you can never predict what will happen during a celebrity auction of this magnitude."
The colorful Dancing Bear costume includes a one-piece body suit and a felt and velour plush head accessorized with a black bowtie. For the majority of the Captain Kangaroo program's airtime, the Dancing Bear character was played by the show's creator — the legendary and mysterious Cosmo Allegretti.
Sanders said the three main characters of the program were Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit and Dancing Bear. The value of Dancing Bear's costume increased due to the fact that the Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit puppets had already been donated to the prestigious Smithsonian Institute in Washington and will never be for sale.
Ironically, both the Dancing Bear costume and the keys — along with several other “Captain Kangaroo” items up for auction — were purchased by the same collector. Sanders would only reveal that the items were being shipped to Tennessee.
Sanders said the main bidders for auction were likely between 58 and 63 years old.
"We anticipate that the demand for ‘Captain Kangaroo’ memorabilia will only increase as the years go by, which will drive up the value on items like Dancing Bear and the keys to the Treasure House,” Sanders projected.