Skip to comments.Mr. Rogers might have been even nicer than you thought
Posted on 05/31/2007 8:50:38 PM PDT by van_erwin
15 Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever
Back when I was in 7th grade I stood up in front of my English class and delivered a tongue-in-cheek, poorly researched presentation on why I thought Mister Rogers should be the next President. I ate up the first few minutes zipping up my cardigan, and putting on some sneakers, and then I proceeded to mock him roundly. It was a riotous success. Fourteen years later, Im using this post to repent. The following are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers:
1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him
Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English. What most people dont know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what shed always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
2. He Made Thieves Think Twice
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 wed known it was yours, we never would have taken it.
3. He Watched His Figure to the Pound!
In covering Rogers daily routine (waking up at 5; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life. He didnt smoke, didnt drink, didnt eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while Im not sure if any of that was because hed mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143. According to the piece, Rogers came to see that number as a gift because, as he says, the number 143 means I love you. It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three.
4. He Saved Both Public Television and the VCR
Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut Public Television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million. Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCRs to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.
5. He Might Have Been the Most Tolerant American Ever
Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. Despite being an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first. Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, God loves you just the way you are. Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.
6. He Was Genuinely Curious about Others
Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because hed often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasnt concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others. Amazingly, it wasnt just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS execs 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 drivers 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 lifethe 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.
7. He was Color-blind
Literally. He couldnt see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.
8. He Could Make a Subway Car full of Strangers Sing
Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldnt be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting Its a wonderful day in the neighborhood. The result made Rogers smile wide.
A few other things:
9. He got into TV because he hated TV. The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each others faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldnt be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you wont fit!), to divorce and war.
10. He was an Ivy League Dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.
11. He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.
12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.
13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant helping puppeteer and operate the trolley.
14. Several characters on the show are named for his family. Queen Sara is named after Rogers wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.
15. The sweaters. Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.
Aim high. It's good to have goals.
I use this as my google query and I come up with almost nothing.
God loves you just the way you are. “mr Rogers” -”15 reasons”
Could someone please point me to the fundamentalists who denounced Mr Rogers.
Like many people, I had the same quirky humorous bent regarding Mr. Rogers...as I have got older, I realize what he was.
Just a nice, quiet guy.
But I do admit to still laughing at Eddie Murphy doing his version...:)
Mr Rogers was great.
Check out this clip:
And this is his senate testimony:
After watching his show religiously when I was a kid, even in the late 80s and early 90s, I was still upset when I found out he passed on a while ago. I didn’t cry or pray for him, but he was a part of my life when I was a small child.
What a neat post!
Wonderful post. Thanks.
I never watched his show, but no one can get through this life without having seen a clip or two somewhere.
He seemed genuinely nice. Sad to say that’s evidently so unusual we all noticed that ‘just a nice guy’ behavior was actually refreshing.
He’s got to have moved on to a higher sphere.
Of course this provoked ire from Christians because it fails to ask the question "And how do you love God? By obeying his Commandments regarding sexual morality?"
No, it does not and therefore calls evil good.
You lost me there. Good TV doesn't need government support.
“God loves you just the way you are. “
If you’re proudly living in sin, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that no, He doesn’t. Christ called all men to change and be Holy. So if you’re a theif, murderer, rapist, or shacking up with the same sex, God loves you anyway but wouldn’t tolerate such behavior. Rogers sounds like he caught the same disease killing the old mainstream Protestant churches....Cafeteria Christianity.
The first few times I saw Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood I thought it was so dorky. But after the frenzy of Sesame Street, it began to be a nice quiet pleasant way to spend 30 minutes with my kids. It also provoked some interesting discussions with them along the way. Of course, as they got older, they thought it was dorky, too, but I still liked it.
I like the jazz piano. Definitely not your typical kids music. Was that him playing?
Thank you for posting.
I have no problem with Mr Rogers. I have a serious problem with being taxed, against my will, to fund him (and PBS).
Why? It said Mr. Rogers said God loves you the way you are. I can easily imagine fundamentalists popping a vein over that.
“Won’t you please...won’t you please...please won’t you be my neighbor.”
Still have that song stuck in my head after all these years...hehe
I’m from the Captain Kangaroo,Mr Greenjeans era,but always found Fred Rogers to be a positive influence for kids of that generation.Fred Rogers did a lot for America’s youth !!!
Thanks for a very uplifting post.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.