The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." Keeshan was the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show when it aired on NBC.
It had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" (later renamed "The Captain's Place"), where the Captain (whose name came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets. The show was live for its first four years, and was in black-and-white until 1968. In 1983, CBS shortened the hour-long show to a half-hour and moved it to an earlier time-slot. It was canceled by CBS at the end of 1984.