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Major Astro belongings go to Kan. history museum

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The Kansas Museum of History has received several personal items that belonged to Tom Leahy Jr., who generations of Kansas children knew either as Major Astro or the weekend movie host in the television show, "The Host and Rodney."

Leahy, who died in 2010 at age 87, was from Wichita and portrayed Major Astro in the afternoon show, which first ran from 1962 to 1973. Leahy reprised the character briefly in 1985.

Leahy created Major Astro in large part because of America's focus at the time on outer space and astronauts. In the late 1940s, Leahy was a booth announcer at KAKE when he created the character and the show "The Host and Rodney" to introduce movies, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/184zgTh)

His widow, Wilma, has donated four boxes of Leahy's personal items and a painting to the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.

Blair Tarr, curator at the Kansas museum, said items included the NASA-style jumpsuit Leahy wore and the jacket he wore as "The Host."

"I feel my late husband deserves recognition for all he did for television and radio," Wilma Leahy said.

Tarr said radio and television historical artifacts can be difficult to obtain.

"One of the things I'm most interested in is recent history," Tarr said. "This is a good illustration in the sense that history isn't always ancient. We often have to remind people of that."