Captain Penny And Barnaby

For a little boy growing up in the Cleveland, Ohio television market during the early 1960s, there were two must-see TV shows:  Captain Penny and Barnaby.  Oh sure, there was Romper Room with Miss Barbara, but no self-respecting kid over the age of 3 who had figured out how to change the channel on the TV would watch it — although to this day I can still remember “Bend and stretch, reach for the stars . . . .  There goes Jupiter, here comes Mars . . . . ” But I digress.

Both Captain Penny and Barnaby were characters who read viewer mail, showed cartoons, and had their own catch phrases.  Captain Penny was a railroad engineer.  I’m not sure why he was called Captain — the title was as mysterious as that of the land-bound Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music.  He showed the Little Rascals and the Three Stooges, told you about dogs that could be adopted from the kennel in a segment called Pooch Parade, and encouraged you to eat your vegetables.  At the end of every show, he told the impressionable rug rats who were watching to always remember:  “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool Mom.”  The Mothers’ Lobby no doubt appreciated Captain Penny’s ringing endorsement — and also appreciated that Captain Penny was a very effective babysitter.

Barnaby was harder to figure out.  He lived in the Enchanted Forest, and the show’s theme music was dreamy-sounding flute music.  Barnaby apparently was an elf, because he had pointed, Spock-like ears.  But he was fully grown and dressed like a character from The Great Gatsby.  This nattily attired sprite typically wore a blue double-breasted blazer, a kind of ascot, and a straw boater, as if the elves in the Enchanted Forest had emigrated from Newport, Rhode Island and still preferred their yachting wear.  Barnaby’s friend, Woodrow the Woodsman, was a somewhat dim-witted rustic who wore a leather jerkin.  Barnaby obviously was a gentle soul.  He called you “neighbor” and told you what a special person who were.  He also showed lots of Popeye cartoons, so after you would watch Popeye beat the snot out of Bluto and yoke him to a gigantic spinach-planting machine you’d get Barnaby’s sensitive act.  The message of the Barnaby show therefore was a bit mixed.

Is there even local TV programming for kids anymore?  If, as I suspect, there isn’t, that’s really a shame.  UJ, Cath and I loved to watch these shows.

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6 thoughts on “Captain Penny And Barnaby

  1. You can add me to the list of loyal viewers of these two great shows. My grandmother lived in a high-rise in Lakewood where a number of local TV people lived (including Mike Douglas), and it was rumored that Barnaby (real name: Linn Sheldon – 1919-2006) had serious alcohol/mood disorder problems. He would leave the studio still in his costume and say that he actually WAS Barnaby!… There is an urban legend that Captain Penny’s (real name Ron Penfound – 1927-1974) wife committed suicide by jumping-off one of the very high bridges on the Ohio Turnpike just outside of Cleveland. Don’t forget the great regular guests on CP’s show, Jungle Larry & Mr. Jingeling (between Thanksgiving & Christmas)… and the Clean Plate Club….

    Let’s not forget Friday nights with Goulardi!

    “If anybody calls, tell them Barnaby said hello. And tell them that I think you are the nicest person in the whole world… Just you.”

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  2. I had heard that it was Captain Penny that had committed suicide, even though I hope that is not true. He and Barnaby and Mr. Jingleling and Franz the Toymaker and Raggedy Ann were such a blessing to me and my brothers and sisters. That was one of the sweetest parts of my childhood.

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    • Ron Penfound moved to Florida in the early 1970s after the Captain Penny show ended. He died in Sept. 1974 of lung cancer in Naples, Florida. He was 47 years old. The suicide rumor apparently got started after his wife, Phyllis, jumped from a bridge in 1964. People must have gotten the two events confused. I’ve never really understood why this rumor got started.

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  3. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?

    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

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  4. FYI, Ron Penfound (Captain Penny) died of lung cancer at age 47. He was a heavy smoker. His 2nd wife committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. He was married 3 times and had 4 daughters and one son. I got this info from Wikipedia. I used to watch Captain Penny every day when I’d come home from school for lunch. I loved Pooch Parade.

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