The Story of the Banana Man

robinsDear David Inman: When I was a kid about 50 years ago we used to watch a children’s show that had a guy called the Banana Man. He would come out and fill up small train cars with foam bananas he pulled from his oversize coat. I seem to be the only person who remembers him. Did he exist? – F.L.M., via e-mail

Dear F.L.M.: It’s hard to describe the Banana Man in print, but if you saw him you wouldn’t forget him. He was a mime-clown who would punctuate his tricks with a soft “aaahh” or “eeee.”

His real name was Adolph Proper, but he was known as A. Robins. He performed on stage and in circuses, and in a 1939 film short that featured a young Red Skelton. He died in 1950, and the act was taken over by a clown named Sammy Levine. That incarnation of the Banana Man appeared on episodes of “Captain Kangaroo,” “Super Circus” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Here’s the 1939 short with Robins:

Here’s Sammy Levine on “Captain Kangaroo” in 1969:

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11 Replies to “The Story of the Banana Man”

  1. Sammy is a genius. Thanks for sharing. I have the fondest memories watching him on the Captain’s show.

  2. This was my favorite act from the Ed Sullivan show. I have been searching for it for years. Glad to see it again. It was a great act.

  3. Finally, whenever I asked people if they remembered the Banana Man they told me I was crazy. I can now prove he was for real. Thanks.

  4. Who could forget the great banana man. I have a picture of him from 1957 and he is hugging a Hula girl on the on the ocean liner Orsova a British liner bound for Australia. I was 9 years old an discovered it was him. He tease me with that voice of hid. My mother introduced him to me an we got the picture however he asked that we keep his identity quiet as he was on vacation and did not want to perform. He may have been on his way to Honolulu as we were stopping there.

  5. I wish his character would be resurrected. His act would always brings good clean laughter and a smile on everyone’s face and soul.

  6. Sam Levine the banana man was my uncle. My father’s brother in-law. He was married to my father’s sister Frieda. I would watch him on Sonny Fox and Captain Kangaroo, but when he and his family came to visit he was just Uncle Sammy..

  7. No one where I live remembers the banana man and thinks I am imagining him. Thanks SOO much for proving them all wrong and for the great memories.

  8. Thank you thank you thank you! I only have 2 friends who remember the Banana Man. Everyone else thinks I’m crazy since it sounds so bizarre. Thanks to you I now have proof!

  9. I loved the Banana Man on Capt. Kangaroo show. Was one of my favorites along with bunny rabbit. Nice to see other people remember him besides me.

  10. loved the Banana Man on Captain Kangaroo’s show!! 1 out of 1,000 people MIGHT remember him…what a shame how wonderful the banana acts were and I loved his famous ewwww diddily dee, and aahh eeeeeeeeeeee
    so inventive and pure cute comedy for the kiddies

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