Cosmo Francis Allegretti, known to many as Gus, a resident of New River, Arizona, and Hampton Bays died on July 26 of emphysema. He was 86.
For more than 30 years, Mr. Allegretti was an actor and a fixture on “Captain Kangaroo,” where he often created puppet characters and gave them life. He was Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit, Mister Moose, Rollo the Hippopotamus, Miss Worm, Grandfather Clock, Magic Drawing Board, Fred from Channel One, Cornelius the Walrus, Bernard (a very large dog), Dennis the Apprentice and more. He originally joined “Captain Kangaroo” as a set painter. Although he had been a puppeteer on the children’s show “Rootie Kazootie,” Mr. Allegretti got his acting and full-time puppeteer beginning when a puppet produced for “Captain Kangaroo” by a professional was poorly done. He volunteered to try making one, and did to huge success.
His imagination, skill in making puppets and his many voices added much color to the very popular children’s program, his survivors said, adding that millions remember his characters with nostalgia and that he had a great influence on young people.
In addition to his work with “Captain Kangaroo,” Mr. Allegretti appeared in a number of films, including “Prince of the City” and “Author, Author.” He also appeared on stage as the sleazy fight manager in “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” as well as an Irish patriot in an otherwise all-Irish cast and other stage productions. When not working, he was a dedicated traveler, visiting India, Ceylon, Nepal, Holland, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Tunisia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala and his beloved Italy. He was a voracious reader and an avid tennis player.
He was involved in the development of the annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in New York. He served in Berlin, Germany, just after World War II as part of the Occupation forces.
Mr. Allegretti is survived by a son, Peter.
A private memorial service will be held at a later date.