There is no debating Mr. Rogers was a legend. He television show was a wholesome option for generations of kids and taught them the value of patience and kindness through his puppetry, songs and skits. His humble show invited viewers into Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood every week for over 30 years, from 1968 until 2001. He stayed busy. Aside from hosting the show in his familiar sweater and slacks, he also was show creator and showrunner. But he always focused on caring for children, as it was his mission in life. An ordained minister, he chose to minister to the children through the magic of television, making use of the technology to nurture the minds of kids with lessons on inclusion and empathy.
Not everyone knew him outside of his appearances on TV. But with the cinematic releases of the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and the latest A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood people are really getting to know who Fred Rogers was, under the cardigan. He charmed all of us and his timeless lessons resonate with people to this day.
These facts might help you gain a deeper understanding of Mr. Rogers. If you’re ready to embody his spirit, you could try on his clothes. Our Mr. Rogers Costume will help you get into character.
- He was an accomplished musician. He left Dartmouth after one year and transferred to Rollins College, where he pursued a degree in music. He used his talent for playing piano and songwriting to write all the songs for Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.
- In addition to songwriting for the show, Rogers did many of the characters’ voices. King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, Henrietta Pussycat, Daniel Striped Tiger, Lady Elaine Fairchild and Larry Horse, to name a few.
- He had a strict daily routine, which involved waking up at 5 a.m. and making time to pray, study, write, make phone calls, swim and respond to fan mail.
- Part of Mr. Rogers’ daily routine was weighing himself. His goal was to maintain a weight of 143 pounds. That number had a special meaning for him. Each digit corresponds with the number of letters in “I love you.” 143 Day would later be celebrated in Pennsylvania, honoring Rogers with his holiday in his home state.
- Mr. Rogers never let a fan letter go unanswered. Part of his daily routine was to respond to 50-100 letters per day.
- Remember the stoplight from the opening sequence to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood? It was always yellow as a reminder to kids and parents to slow down a little.
- He made a point to announce that he was feeding his fish. The request came from a young, blind viewer who wanted to know that the fish were okay.
- His mother knitted all of his iconic sweaters up until her death in 1981. When they couldn’t endure tapings anymore, the art director had to find replacements, which was no easy task due to the requirements of a smooth zipper and vibrant colors. Her solution came when she saw a United States Postal Service employee. She called the postal supply distributor to secure fresh inventory. The sweaters were white and she dyed them to keep Rogers looking like himself through the remainder of the show.
- Mister Rogers helped to save public television and the VCR. He went before the Senate in 1969 to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting. Years later, he appeared before the Senate again to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record shows shouldn’t be a form of copyright infringement.
- A total of 895 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were filmed. The first episode aired in 1968 and the final episode played in August of 2001.
There is hope in a world that allows good people like Fred Rogers to be an influence for so many people. Even beyond his life on earth, his words can inspire generations yet to come.
“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” -Fred Rogers