Captain Chesapeake Lives on in the Hearts of Baltimoreans
Updated: Thursday, November 14 2013, 09:44 PM EST
In April of 1971 Captain Chesapeake hit the airwaves in Baltimore as a live afternoon show for kids. The show quickly gained millions of fans and remained on the air for nearly two decades.
George Lewis was the 'man beneath the hat.'
The show was based on old-fashioned values and provided clean kid entertainment. The show's following was huge - public appearances of the characters would draw mobs. Arguably the show's most popular character was the sea monster, Mondy.
Now FOX45's "Traffic Jam Jimmy," Jimmy Uhrin was the man who played Mondy. Though Uhrin wasn't the first to play the part, he was the last.
"It was actually made out of 2 female mannequins put together," Jimmy recalled of the costume, "With a drape over it. You'd have to sit on a paint can actually and the floor was painted blue and the wall chromakeyed blue and it got a little hot in those studio lights."
As the show's popularity grew Jimmy sensed he was a part of something very special.
"When [Captain Chesapeake] would go on public appearances I would go with him sometime," Jimmy said. He was like Elvis. There would be a swarm of kids and I would be like, 'Holy heck,' and they would be out there and to see the smiles on their faces, it was pretty cool."
There was an undeniable dynamic among the cast and crew.
"The Captain Chesapeake you saw on the camera was the same Captain Chesapeake you saw off the camera," Dwight Weems, one of the show's crew members, said. "He was funny, loved kids."
Captain Chesapeake also had his granddaughter, Angela, on the show. While the public knew his outgoing side she remembers him differently.
"I would say he was probably quieter than people realized," Angela said. "Because people think you have to be an extrovert on TV, but he was quiet and when he did talk he had something to say -- it was time to listen."
While the star of the show died more than a decade ago the Facebook page "Fans of Captain Chesapeake" is growing even today, at "sea monster" speeds. The spirit of George Lewis's Captain Chesapeake lives on in the hearts of Baltimoreans.