Whether you watched “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child or adult, it’s hard not to think about the show without feeling a huge wave of nostalgia. In the world of children’s television, there has never been anyone quite like Fred Rogers. Week after week, he invited viewers into his home. We watched him take off us his shoes, change into a comfortable sweater and feed his fish. He invited us to the land of make believe and took us on field trips. The intimacy of the show left many of us feeling like the soft-spoken, kind man was part of the family.
But how much did we actually know about him? Was Mr. Rogers truly the gentle man we knew from television? The more we’ve learned about Fred Rogers, the more our love for him has grown. Here’s a few of our favorite facts.
Fred Rogers hated TV so much, he decided it was up to him to change it.
Mr. Rogers recognized that most television programming was negative or based on violence in some way. He knew kids deserved better, thus “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” was born.
He was truly the same person off-camera as he was on.
“Kids can spot a phony a mile away,” he was known to say. “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self.”
That catchy tune at the beginning of the show? Mr. Rogers wrote it himself.
Before his hit TV show, Rogers received his B.A. in music from Rollins College. He also attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he became an ordained minister.
His home life was just as peaceful as the one viewers saw on the show.
He was happily married for 47 years, enjoyed a close relationship with his mother and didn’t smoke, drink or even eat meat. “I don’t want to eat anything that has a mother,” he was known to say.
Every sweater he wore on the show was hand-made by his mom.
Told you they were close.
Remember Koko, the gorilla who understood sign language?
She’s still alive and well in San Francisco – and still a HUGE Mr. Rogers fan.
When they met for the first time, she gave him a warm embrace …
And then attempted to take off his shoes! There’s no doubt they had a special bond.
Whether animal or human, Mr. Rogers really cared about his fans.
When a young, blind girl complained that she couldn’t tell if his fish were being fed, he began announcing it out loud on the show. Over eight hundred episodes, and he never forgot.
In his “Goodbye” episode, he left us with some unforgettable words of encouragement.
Thanks Fred Rogers, for all you taught us over the years. There will never be anyone quite like you.