Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans with Dancing Bear (Cosmo Alegretti) in 1960.
January 5, 1910|
Sandwich, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||April 19, 1987
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Hugh Brannum (January 5, 1910 – April 19, 1987) was an American vocalist, arranger, composer, and actor best known for his role as Mr. Green Jeans on the children's television show Captain Kangaroo. During his days with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, he used his childhood nickname "Lumpy".
Brannum was born in Sandwich, Illinois, in 1910 to a Methodist minister. He attended Maine Township High School in suburban Chicago, where he played sousaphone in the school's marching band, later learning the bass violin.
During World War II, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and joined a Marine band led by Bob Crosby. After the war, he joined the Four Squires, later moving to Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians; Waring's group had a regular radio show, where Hugh met fellow Marine Bob Keeshan, an employee at the station who later hired Brannum for Captain Kangaroo.
Mr. Green Jeans earned his moniker from his distinctive apparel, a pair of farmer's overalls (later, jeans and a denim jacket) in his signature green (although, since the show was broadcast in black-and-white for much of its run, this was lost on viewers). He was a talented and inquisitive handyman who provided assistance at the Treasure House. He frequently visited the Captain with the latest addition to his menagerie of zoo animals.
Aside from Mr. Green Jeans, Brannum played a number of characters on Captain Kangaroo from 1955 to 1984, including the Professor, Greeno the Clown, the New Old Folk Singer, and Mr. Bainter the Painter. His role as Mr. Green Jeans was partly based on stories about a farm kid named "Little Orley" that he told with the Fred Waring orchestra, on the radio and on 78-rpm records under the pseudonym "Uncle Lumpy". According to Bob Keeshan, Mr. Green Jeans was an extension of Brannum's real personality. The shows were performed before a live audience. During one episode of Captain Kangaroo, a lion cub bit Brannum's finger and drew blood. Brannum stuck his bleeding hand into his pocket and never broke character for the remainder of the episode.
In popular culture
- A long-running but incorrect rumor claims Brannum was the father of musician Frank Zappa, apparently because of a Zappa composition titled "Son of Mr. Green Genes" on his 1969 album, Hot Rats.
- Along with Bob Keeshan, he is mentioned in the Jim Lehrer novel The Phony Marine.
Soloist and/or composer and/or arranger, as Hugh (Lumpy) Brannum, on the following Fred Waring recordings:
- Get Well
- Little Orley and His Coonskin Cap
- Little Orley and His Fly-Frog-Fish Orchestra
- Little Orley and the Cricket
- Little Orley and the Happy Bird
- Little Orley and the Haunted House
- Little Orley and the Little Engine
- Little Orley's Barn Dance
- Little Orley's Big Concert
- Little Orley–His Adventures as a Worm
- Little Orley–His Adventures with Dr. Feather
- Little Orley–His Adventures with the Cloud
- Little Orley–His Adventures with the Parade
- Orley and the Bubble Gum
- Orley and the Bull Fiddle
- Orley and the Ivy
- Orley and the Moon
- Orley and the Pancake
- The Little Rhumba Numba
- Barron, James (April 22, 1987). "Hugh Brannum, Actor, Dies; Played Mr. Green Jeans on TV". The New York Times.
- Keeshan, Bob (1999). "15". Growing Up Happy: Captain Kangaroo Tells Yesterday's Children How to Nurture Their Own. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-51444-6.
- Davis, Michael (2009). Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. Viking Books. pp. 50, 51.
- Tomajczyk, Steve (2004). To Be a U.S. Marine. Zenith Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-7603-1788-4.
- Rafkin, Alan (1998). Cue the Bunny on the Rainbow: Tales from Tv's Most Prolific Sitcom Director. Syracuse University Press. pp. 21, 22. ISBN 978-0-8156-0542-3.
- "Deaths". Newsweek. 19. 1977.
- Sherwood, Dane; Wood, Sandy; Kolvalchik, Kara (2006). The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Not So Useless Facts. Alpha. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-59257-567-1.
- Lehrer, Jim (2008). The Phony Marine: A Novel. Random House Trade Paperbacks. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8129-7551-2.
- Kiefer, Peter T (1996). The Fred Waring Discography. Greenwood Pub Group. pp. 3,31,57,58,77,161,189,190,194,195.