Mitch Agruss, known to a generation of cartoon watching kids now in their 40’s and 50’s as Cap’n Delta and later Cap’n Mitch, has died at the age of 92. Beyond his television career as the kindly host of kids’ shows on Sacramento stations KOVR and KTXL, Agruss was an accomplished stage actor and had numerous roles in the early days of live television.
“Agruss grew up in St. Louis and trained in the now-legendary theater program at Carnegie-Mellon University in the 1930s,” wrote Davis Enterprise reporter and Capital Public Radio arts contributor Jeff Hudson in 2014. “He worked summer stock shows at the Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania, where he was in a show helmed by playwright/director Thornton Wilder, with whom Agruss corresponded.
“Agruss then settled in New York, where he appeared in both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and later live television dramas and touring Shakespeare productions. Along the way, he worked alongside prominent performers including Katharine Hepburn, Bert Lahr, John Houseman and John Cassavetes, among others,” according to Hudson.
After retiring from television, Agruss returned to the stage, often appearing in original holiday shows for Sacramento’s B Street Theatre, in part due to his physical resemblance to Santa Claus.
In 2014, Agruss appeared on Capital Public Radio’s Insight with Beth Ruyak. The topic was a new play about Katherine Hepburn, written by local playwright Rick Foster and starring acclaimed actress Janis Stevens. Agruss, who performed with Hepburn in a production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” called her “the most exciting person I have ever met.” He was the one who proposed the idea for the play. You can listen to the interview here.
Mitch Agruss is survived by his ex-wife Katharine Thompson, of Sacramento; granddaughter Emma Agruss; sons, Christopher Agruss (wife Louise Walker) of Davis and Noah Agruss (wife Helen London) of Los Angeles; sister, Betty Ginsberg of Boca Raton, Fla.; John Bennick (Mary) of Sacramento and Paul Bennick (Pam) of Davis and their families.
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- Capital Public Radio staff