Here are some interesting facts about him, though:
- He basically saved public television. In 1969 the government wanted to cut public television funds. Mister Rogers then went to Washington where he gave an amazing merely six minute speech. By the end of the speech not only did he charm the hostile Senators, he got them to double the budget they would have initially cut down. The whole thing can be found on youtube, a video called “Mister Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate.”
- “Certain fundamentalist preachers hated him because, apparently not getting the “kindest man who ever lived” memo, they would ask him to denounce homosexuals. Mr. Rogers’s response? He’d pat the target on the shoulder and say, “God loves you just as you are.” Rogers even belonged to a “More Light” congregation in Pittsburgh, a part of the Presbyterian Church dedicated to welcoming LGBT persons to full participation in the church.”
- According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town. Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”
- Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
Yeah and did you know…
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood began airing in 1968 and ran for 895 episodes; the last set of new episodes was taped in December 2000 and began airing in August 2001. At its peak, in 1985, 8% of U.S households tuned in to the show.
- Each episode began the same way: Mister Rogers is seen coming home, singing his theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, and changing into sneakers and a zippered cardigan sweater (he stated in an interview for Emmy TV that all of his sweaters were knitted by his mother).
- In a typical episode, Rogers might have an earnest conversation with his television audience, interact with live guests, take a field trip to such places as a bakery or a music store, or watch a short film.
- Typical video subjects included demonstrations of how such inanimate objects as bulldozers and crayons work or are manufactured.
- Each episode included a trip to Rogers’ “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” featuring a trolley with its own chiming theme song, a castle, and the kingdom’s citizens, including King Friday XIII. The subjects discussed in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe often allowed further development of themes discussed in Mister Rogers’ “real” neighborhood.
- Mister Rogers often fed his fish during episodes. They were originally named Fennel and Frieda.
- Typically, each week’s episode explored a major theme, such as going to school for the first time.
- Originally, most episodes ended with a song entitled “Tomorrow”, and Friday episodes looked forward to the week ahead with an adapted version of “It’s Such a Good Feeling.” In later seasons, all episodes ended with “Feeling.”
Visually, the presentation of the show was very simple, and it did not feature the animation or fast pace of other children’s shows, which Rogers thought of as “bombardment”. Rogers also believed in not acting out a different persona on camera compared to how he acted off camera, stating that “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.” Rogers composed almost all of the music on the program.[note 1] He wanted to teach children to love themselves and others, and he addressed common childhood fears with comforting songs and skits. For example, one of his famous songs explains how a child cannot be pulled down the bathtub drain because he or she will not fit. He even once took a trip to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to show children that a hospital is not a place to fear. During the Gulf War (1990–91), he assured his audience that all children in the neighborhood would be well cared for and asked parents to promise to take care of their own children. The message was aired again by PBS during the media storm that preceded the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
I care about Mr. Rogers and “honest self” is a really good word pair.
This is a true story: When I was a little kid, I was a Mr. Rogers addict. I loved Mr. Rogers so much that one year I wanted to invite him to my birthday party. So I wrote an invitation with the help of my mom and she sent it out to him. Mr. Rogers did not come to my birthday party BUT he did send back a hand-written note apologizing and wishing his “neighbor” a happy birthday.
In short, Mr. Rogers was the shit.