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The Unofficial "Captain 11" Home Page

by Brian M. Hass

OPENING NARRATION:

written and performed by Tom Sheeley

"CAPTAIN 11! Today's man of the Future!"

"One man in each century is given the power to control time. The man chosen to receive this power is carefully selected. He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements; and, we of the Outer Galaxies designate to you the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Atlas. YOU are CAPTAIN 11!"



AN INCREDIBLE RUN

Starting March 7, 1955, the half hour show aired weekday afternoons at around 4:00pm. During most "Captain 11's" run, KELO-land's weather man, Dave Dedrick, donned the headphones and gold-trimmed blue suit to introduce cartoons and to interview visiting children in the studio. Many of these children or "crew members" came on the show to celebrate birthdays and to flip the colored "jewels" on Captain 11's famous "time converter" control panel. Others just came for their fifteen minutes of fame. Any kid appearing on the show was seen by his or her friends, and would be the "talk of the playground" the following day.

The original time converter backdrop was constructed by three engineers. They cannibalized an old pinball machine of its switches and bells. Its most famous features were the two spinning "twerlitzer wheels," which "drew" the viewer into a cartoon. The set was changed a number of times over the years; but, the colored jewels and the yellow twerlitzer wheels remained.

As with most local shows, the biggest draw on "Captain 11" was the cartoons. These ranged from "Beetle Bailey" and "Krazy Kat" (which were shown in the early 70's) to the "Popeye" and Warner Brothers cartoons. Also, "Little Rascals" films were frequently shown in the mid 1970's to the delight of both children as well as their parents. In the 1990's, the cartoons (usually Warner Brothers cartoons) were not always shown in their entirety. The most likely reason for this is the fact that the show was pretaped at this time; and, the editing probably favored the studio segments over the cartoons.

In addition to cartoons, the show had many regular features. Two included the giant Tootsie Roll giveaways as well as the famous Toy Chest. For the Toy Chest, young viewers would send postcards to guess which key would open it. The cards would be mixed up and drawn at random; and if the child guessed the correct key, he or she would win a prize. Also, a regular feature was the game in which the Captain had the children jump on one or both feet, wave at the camera, and then freeze. The game was much like Simon Says, with Captain 11 calling the shots.

On occasion, the "Captain 11" show had in-studio guests. Members of the Harlem Globetrotters made frequent appearances on the show in the 1970's.

Away from the show, the Captain frequently made appearances in surrounding communities. He would ride in parades and appear at special events, such as the opening of new businesses. Wherever the Captain went, children were sure to follow. Dave Dedrick referred to Captain 11 as a sort of Santa Claus in a blue suit.

The 1980's would see some of the first significant changes to the show. Many times over the years, Dave Dedrick had to replace the Captain's famous black headphones. Around 1980, when the last set was due for a replacement, Dedrick simply decided to get rid of them for good. However, with the blue suit and Dave Dedrick's jolly personality, this minor change to the Captain's uniform hardly caused a stir from the children who continued to visit.

And, the Spacelink satellite van allowed the show to go on the road. This made possible the Captain's memorable appearance at Dakota State College in Madison on April 12, 1989, with a turnout of about 3000 people for the live show.

However, the program's ratings would wane as a result of competition with children's programming on cable television. Most locally produced children's shows disappeared from the airwaves as a result of this; But, "Captain 11" adapted by becoming a weekly program on Saturdays in July 1989.

As the show continued the 1990's, "Captain 11" became a member of a virtually extinct species...the locally produced children's TV show. In 1995, it celebrated its fourtieth anniversary with a special program, featuring taped congratulations from politicians and a number of other famous figures. The show overcame many challenges over the years; but, it could not survive Dave Dedrick's retirement. Dave made the announcement during an evening weathercast. And once word got out, it was standing room only in the KELO-TV studios during "Captain 11's" final weeks. The hour long final program was taped at the El Riad Shrine ballroom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on December 27, 1996.

After the taping, the famous blue suit and hat, and black boots were placed with photos and letters from viewers into a special "Captain 11" time capsule at KELO-TV. The "time converter" was sent to Pierre, South Dakota to be put on public display. Dave Dedrick made it quite clear that the Captain had returned to the Outer Galaxies and would no longer be making any further public appearances. Nobody else would ever wear the blue suit again. However, Dave would continue to make occasional TV appearances as himself in local commercials.

The show's finale was first aired at noon on December 28, 1996 and was repeated at 4:30pm on January 1, 1997. After a run of approximately fourty-one years and ten months, "Captain 11" is most likely the longest running children's program in the Midwest and one of the longest in the history of television.



DAVE DEDRICK

David Hugo Dedrick was born on March 29, 1928 in Marshalltown, Iowa to Daniel and Sylvia Dedrick. He and his family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa before finally moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1935. During his junior and senior years at Washington High School, Dave Dedrick worked at KELO and KSOO radio in Sioux Falls. On May 19, 1953, KELO-TV went on the air; and, Dave Dedrick was the station's first announcer. For nearly forty-two years, Dave Dedrick hosted the long-running "Captain 11" show at KELO-TV. On December 30, 1996, he retired from broadcasting. On April 18, 1997, Dave Dedrick was inducted into the South Dakota Broadcasters Hall of Fame. After a long illness, Dave Dedrick passed away on January 22, 2010.



RELATED LINKS:



FOR FURTHER READING

Books

It_Ain't_All_Cartoons by Dave Dedrick (288 pg, published by East Eagle Company, 1989)

Newspaper Articles

"Captain 11 Marks 'End of an Era'" by David Kranz
(Dec 28, 1996 "Argus Leader" pg 1A, 5A)



OTHER DURABLE TELEVISION SHOWS

"Bozo the Clown": Over 150,000 individual episodes of this show have aired in the US and abroad since 1949.*

"Chief Halftown": The longest running children's show, which aired in Philadelphia from 1951 to 1999.

"Doctor Who": This British show is television's longest running science fiction series. New episodes were aired every year from November 23, 1963 to December 6, 1989, with the only hiatus occurring in 1986. During the show's run, seven different actors played the title role.

"Joe Franklin": As of June 1, 1986, he presented the 21,700th version of his show, which started in 1951.*

"Meet the Press": This is television's most durable show, which began broadcasting November 6, 1947 and has broadcast weekly since September 12, 1948.*

"Mister Roger's Neighborhood": Since first broadcasting in 1968, Fred Roger's gentle children's television program has continued to entertain and educate children on public television. A number of new episodes are still produced every year, featuring most of the show's original personalities.

"The Simpsons": This is American prime time television's longest running animated series.

"Today": This is American television's longest running morning show.

"The Tonight Show": This is American television's longest running late night talk show, having been hosted by Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien.

*Source: Guinness Book of World Records



NOTES

The second broadcast of the final show on January 1, 1997 was of a slightly different edit than the one aired on December 28, 1996. The second edit included a close up of Captain 11 at the end that was not shown the first time around.

"Captain 11" is the copyrighted property of KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Neither KELO-TV nor Dave Dedrick are responsible for the contents of this article. No copyright infringements were intended in the writing of this article. This article was written as a tribute to the classic local TV show.