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Bob March, who rose to fame during the early years of television broadcasting in the Bay Area as “Captain Satellite,” has died at home near Sacramento.
March died the morning of Aug. 6, according to Louise Ann Pennella-March, his daughter-in-law. He was 93.
He had been living with his wife, Alice, in the Sacramento area in recent years.
In 1958, March starred in the title role of “Captain Satellite” on KTVU in Oakland. Almost immediately, he became easily identifiable to a generation of kids growing up in the Bay Area and northern California throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, all of whom watched his afternoon kiddie show every afternoon after school.
Before Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker, Buck Rogers — even the Robinson family and their Robot from “Lost in Space” — there was Captain Satellite, who, courtesy of KTVU, flew in from outer space each weekday afternoon and into the living rooms of Bay Area children for more than a decade.
When Captain Satellite debuted on KTVU, it aired live for one hour every weekday afternoon beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The show soon became a smash hit with Bay Area children, fresh home from a day at school. March’s signature outfit on the air was a helmet and a dark uniform under a light-colored triangular vest, with artwork featuring a thunderbolt passing through a globe. The show’s set was a cutaway rocket ship which “blasted off” each afternoon.
To the tens of thousands of children who watched Captain Satellite each weekday afternoon, the popular afternoon show was the welcoming answer for kids of all ages after a long day of sitting in a classroom.
Born Robert Monkman in Racine, Wisconsin, March was immediately drafted into the Army right out of high school, said Pennella-March. She said that he knew that when he got out, he wanted to pursue his dream of being on the radio. That is when he decided to adopt March as his stage name.
He broke into radio and television in Racine and Milwaukee, respectively, before moving to California to work in Bakersfield and, eventually, at KTVU. March’s children’s show on KTVU lasted 11 years, ending in 1969. He remained with the station through the 1970s as one of its announcers. In later years, he taught television at San Francisco State University.
In 1990, the San Francisco/Northern California Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted March into its distinguished Silver Circle for his more than 25 years of contributions to Bay Area television.