There have been a lot of deaths in the entertainment industry this year and it never gets easier to accept. This week, we lost another great icon in the entertainment business that was a fixture among the finest in broadcasting.
According to the New York Daily News, James Wall, the man behind “Captain Kangaroo” character Mr. Baxter, died at 92 Wednesday, Oct. 27. Wall died in his sleep after battling an illness and he is survived by his wife of 62 years. Wall’s role in “Captain Kangaroo” lasted 15 years until 1978 and he went onto work as a stage manager for the CBS Broadcast Center until 2009. Wall has worked in various aspects of broadcasting including working at political conventions and presidential inaugurations. Wall had a long and beautiful career in the entertainment industry and will be missed dearly.
What I remember most about Mr. Baxter was that he was like the calm after the storm in so many ways. He was the one who always seemed to have the most personality on “Captain Kangaroo” and he was the more reasonable voice on the show. When things were not going well on the show, he was the one who was there to make everyone feel better. Mr. Baxter in a lot of ways was like the father figure who was worried about the feelings and actions of other people and he rarely thought of just himself. I think a large part of who Mr. Baxter was had to do with his voice because it was so deep and calming. He just had that voice that reminded you of better times and it was very relaxing to hear during various stressful situations. Mr. Baxter reminded me of my grandfather because he was always calm and reassuring no matter what stressful or awkward situation happened. Mr. Baxter had the voice of reason and could soothe the soul, which is why Wall made such a good broadcaster after the show was over. I will always remember the sanity he gave to the “Captain Kangaroo” show and it is how he became an entertainment icon.
I treasure the memories of Wall and of his character on “Captain Kangaroo” because he was truly a gifted actor who had an incredible voice. I remember when I was little watching that show with my mother and it gives me fond memories of being a child. I treasure what Mr. Baxter gave television because he was like a father to many people and like a grandfather to so many others. When we think back to the early shows on television, you always have to include Wall because he was a pioneer of his time. Mr. Baxter is just a character icon in the early days of television and has lived on even after the show ended. Wall was also a broadcaster who was involved in many of the most important events in America, which is something I admire. I will admire his journalistic integrity and how well he captured the events that were so important to America. Even as a broadcaster for CBS, I always felt the spirit of his character Mr. Baxter throughout his reporting and analysis. I will treasure the hours I spent as a child watching Mr. Baxter and know that those memories will live on in my heart.
Leo Standora, “‘Captain Kangaroo’ star James Wall, best known as TV show’s Mr. Baxter, dies at 92”, New York Daily News