Myth Blaster – Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo, John Denver, and Mr. Rogers

Joan B., Illinois, sent an email that is a combination of stories that have circulated around the Internet (seems forever) as separate entities, but now has been combined; the following is the most recent version:

Captain Kangaroo passed away on January 23, 2004 as age 76 , which is >odd, because he always looked to be 76. (DOB: 6/27/27.) His death reminded me of the following story.
Some people have been a bit offended that the actor, Lee Marvin, is buried in a grave alongside 3 and 4 star generals at
Arlington National Cemetery. His marker gives his name, rank (PVT) and service (USMC). Nothing else. 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 didn’t know the extent of his Corps experiences. In a time when many Hollywood stars served their country in the armed forces often in rear echelon posts where they were carefully protected, only to be trotted out to perform for the cameras in war bond promotions, Lee Marvin was a genuine hero. He won the Navy Cross at
Iwo Jima. There is only one higher Naval award… the Medal Of Honor. If that is a surprising comment on the true character of the man, he credits his sergeant with an even greater show of bravery. Dialogue from “The Tonight Show with 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.”
“Yeah, yeah… I got shot square in the bottom 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 getting’ 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. That dumb guy actually stood up on Red beach and directed his troops to move forward and get the hell off the beach. Bullets flying by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere and he stood there as the main target of gunfire so that he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men’s safety was more important than his own life. That Sergeant and I have been lifelong friends. When they brought me off Suribachi we passed the Sergeant and he lit a smoke and passed it to me, lying on my belly on the litter and said, where’d they get you Lee?’ Well Bob… if you make it home be fore me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse!”
Johnny, I’m not lying, Sergeant Keeshan was the bravest man I ever knew.
The Sergeant’s name is Bob Keeshan. You and the world know him as Captain Kangaroo.”
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-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps. He was a master in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, able to disarm or kill in a heartbeat. After the war Mr. Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister and therefore a pacifist. Vowing to never harm another human and also dedicating the rest of his life to trying to help lead children on the right path in life. He hid away the tattoos and his past life 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. Take the time to thank anyone that has fought for our freedom. With encouragement they could be the next Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers.


Myth Blaster Verdict: Lee Marvin portion = partly TRUE. Captain Kangaroo portion = partly TRUE. Mr. Rogers story = FALSE. [Source: Snopes]

The Mr. Rogers story is a hoax, along with another one circulating about the country-singer John Denver who reportedly served in the military.

Mr. Rogers was a television host for a children’s show for many years. He didn’t wear a sweater to hide any tattoos and never served in the military.

The interview involving Lee Marvin on the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson hosted it is true in the respect that he was wounded but it was the battle for Saipan, not Iwo Jima. The transcript written in the e-mail to Joan is fiction. Lee Marvin was awarded the Purple Heart, not the Navy Cross.

Bob Keeshan, later to be known as “Captain Kangaroo” – joined the Marines just before the Japanese surrendered. Her served in the military, but not in any battles of World War II and certainly didn’t save Lee Marvin’s life.

These stories began circulating in 2002 and have resurfaced, rewritten and includes all three falsified stories.

There are heroes among us every day, some who never saw combat but heroes in another fashion – we don’t need to conjure up false heroes, there are plenty of real stories to go around. There are heroes that are fire fighters, policemen, teachers, students, and almost every walk of life who have come up upon a moment in their life when they had to make a decision to put themselves in jeopardy in order to save another’s life.


13 comments on “Myth Blaster – Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo, John Denver, and Mr. Rogers

  1. Michelle says:

    Though this atricle is interesting, there are no citations or references that would make it any more credible than the original emails glorifying the named individuals.
    Also, I used to watch Mr. Rogers, he does have a tatoo near his left wrist, I’ve seen it as his sweater was not always pulled all the way down to his hand.
    So please, post your credibility, I would like to see the research.

  2. Keith says:

    If you think the linked references are not credible, well … everyone has an “opinion” – but opinions are not always factual. It is customary when writing a rebuttal that they provide their own sources to back up their rebuttal. Therefore, we can call this a Mexican hat dance.
    As far as you watching Mr. Rogers, I and others must have missed that episode. As far as research, you can also write to and other hoax busting websites who would agree with this and may have further references for you to scrutinize. I didn’t spend a lot of time with this article because the hoax email has been floating around for sometime now. And, to get into more detail:
    His full name was Fred McFeely Rogers, and unless you can find sources that are different than public records or the biographies written about him are wrong, he wasn’t in the military. And the tattoos – well there is also scuttlebutt going around that he as a homosexual. I didn’t include that because it was not in the email floating around or the email sent to me by readers to check it out. But in fact he was truly a reverend of the church, ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1962. He wore a long sleeve church and the sweater because he was conservative in the manner in which he dressed, both on screen and off.
    Enuff. The ball of credibility is in your court – but from experience, I nor the readers will see your sources that proves this wrong. Here are some more links, since you didn’t think I posted enough ….
    Urban Legends
    I was at a social event recently when a friend pulled me aside. She said she had taken a look at my Bella site and really liked the tattoo articles I was writing. I asked if there was anything she’d like me to write about. She asked if I could find out more about Mister Rogers’ tattoos, and said she had heard that was why he always wore long-sleeve sweaters.

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tattoo Urban Legend #2, the Mister Rogers tattoo story. Sometimes the ink is attributed to a stay in the military. Sometimes the military story comes with the elaboration that he was a sniper and each tattoo represented a kill. Nonetheless, there is a persistent rumor that Mister Rogers had seriously tattooed arms. As cool as that might be, it is very much untrue. You will find the question posed here and there on message boards with all manner of answers, and the story certainly was revived by his passing in early 2003. However, all reports from friends and colleagues would indicate that 1) Mister Rogers was not a tattooed person and 2) his style of dress was chosen for a type of relaxed formality. Remember folks, this man was an ordained minister who worked with children: not exactly the tattooed type.

    Truth Or Fiction
    Velon News
    Post Gazette
    Whatever –

  3. Frank Prunk says:

    No response but I tell you that I won’t be believing very much of anything anymore on e-mail as it has proven a lot lately to be bs on a lot of things. Breaks the American spirit with these stories people make up and send. Cut It Out

  4. RED says:

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Yes, it’s great to know the truth. But, sometimes, a little tall tale is exciting. Without tall tales there’d be no Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, or any other great myth in our culture. Fantastic myths like this are fun, and harmless, as long as the truth is also known. Use your imagination. Live a little.

  5. Keith says:

    The wonderful tales of Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, et cetera have nothing to do with ‘stories’ about real people and events that are passed off as fact.
    Imagination is wonderful in the world of fiction, I for one love the tales and a chance to escape reality on occasion; but misinformation and the prevention of knowledge are dangerous in the real world. Knowledge is power and there are those who want to keep it only for themselves and their fellow elitists.
    Thanks for stopping by and contributing with your comment.

  6. Tim says:

    I Find it quite amusing that you post your facts as far as you can prove them. Here is one for you, many soldiers that were never given combat pay, duty nor recognition served our armed forces without it ever being recorded. in time of combat. For you see, The fact is we were in Laos before Vietnam wa declared a conflict. We have had held and cooperated in many actions without so much as a whisper of a paper trail to prove it. And most of all for your “misinformation” LOL There are military personell, civilian and enlisted in the intelligence community whos MOS (that would be their Job) is strictly to memorize and destroy military documentation. It has been and will remain this way for a long time. There are some things that the civilian world just has no business getting involved if not but for the sole reason that they cannot possibly fathom the reality of thier need for these actions. ( As for those of you Hollywood raised children that are fantisizing of someone memorizing the wrong thing, and the repercussion of that. It can’t won’t and will never happen. The documentation for this practice is fragmented and divided so that only a few could ever hope of finding all of the participating members and then you have to get it in the right order.

  7. Keith Lehman says:

    Michelle and Tim:
    Strange how you can pick apart something where I provided the links available, yet in your disagreement provide none yourself to prove otherwise.
    Sourcing works both ways – thus the rebuttal rules here apply.
    I was not the only one who presented the facts concerning misinformation passed around the Internet via email.

  8. Summer Glau says:

    Johhny Appleseed wasn’t a made up story; John Chapman was the real deal. Wiki link with sources you can verify yourself below, a great book that has real interviews with John Chapman historians below it.

  9. Harry Eng says:

    Since when did wikipedia become a valid source? Despite what some of today’s inexperienced freshmen in college might think, Wikipedia is not a valid spource as there is no credible editing or critical review of any of its postings.

    So when you cite Wikipedia in any discussion of verification – it is like the blind citing the blind as proof of what was seen!

  10. Keith Lehman says:

    Harry Eng:
    Thanks for your uneducated opinion. Also available is Encyclopedia Britannica, but Wiki is much more extensive, even having a scholarly search and unlike Britannica – its free.
    In addition, everything requires a source, which is given in the entry and if not verified, it is printed (usually in red) within the article with a warning that some material is not sourced.
    Besides, this article, as other articles I use much more than Wikipedia as a source – just depends.
    So, a big disagreement on your unsubstantiated opinion.

  11. John Morris says:

    Veteran organizations spend a lot of time and energy debunking false claims of bravery and at times, even service. Note: there are many more than you can imagine.

    I knew a Marine who would cover himself with stories of valor which were later proven false by the FBI. His misdirected actions not only soiled his reputation but the very organizations who had him as a member. What a real disappointment this is. You learn to not accept everything your hear – or read.

    As you can imagine, US Veterans take their images and reputations very seriously. They’ve walked the walk but are slow to talk the talk because they have a deep sense of accomplishment.

    The trick to tell the “wannabees” from genuine heroes is to listen to the people at the posts. The loud mouths are usually the fakers. Real heroes carry themselves with a quiet dignity and don’t need to prove themselves again to anyone.

    The truth is out there somewhere just waiting to set the record straight.

    Take it from a Veteran who is not a hero but is proud to serve with many.

  12. Thompson says:

    I am not going t comment on any validity or non validity of any fact or fiction in this article. I would like to make the comment that a lot of alleged “Fraud Busters” or “Debunk” sites, are just as bogus and fake as what they claim to be debunking or busting. Just because something is posted up n a web site or several websites does not make that something fact, even if it’s a “Debunking” web site. I knew of one “Debunking” web site that use to make they claim that they “Debunked” Frank Dux and Jesse Venture as being “Fakes”. Sadly however, they were actually wrong. Their facts were actually fiction, and their sources given totally fiction. They eventually had to retract their claims because of a court order, stemming from a law suite they lost, when Mr Frank Dux and Mr Jesse Venuture actually provided all the evidence that they were actual “Real” and the “Debunking” web site was the “Fake” one. Also reading a magazine article or even a book on a subject, is not always proof or even factual in it’s information. An example of this is the New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who for many years often would fake information by making it up. Often such fake information would then be picked up and propagated by others as being true factual information. (see story here: Even legitimate sources can unknowingly perpetrate or propagate false, incorrect, inaccurate or totally false information, thinking or believing it to be factually true.

  13. Dr. House: “Everybody lies.” Anyone who has lived in a family knows there are stories, anecdotes, tales
    that are distorted, embellished, exaggerated, mythologized. The stories of Rogers, Marvin, Denver, and
    Keeshan, though, are pretty easily verified. Certain dimwits I know like to spread preposterous misinformation
    on the web in hopes of buttressing their political bias. Why do they do this? They’re idiots.

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