Mr. Rogers, 'Neighborhood' Hero: Facts And True Stories

By | August 6, 2019

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Left: Publicity shot of Fred Rogers for 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?,' 2008. Right: Publicity photo from PBS for 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.' Source: IMDB

Fred Rogers, whose Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a children's TV institution, became not just a popular TV host for kids but also a folk hero of sorts to those who grew up on him. His kindly demeanor, his arsenal of puppets, his own childlike fascination with ordinary things, and that wardrobe of cardigan sweaters -- this man was so zen, so chill. Perhaps we should have listened better and learned a bit more from this Buddha of PBS.

Every generation, at one point or another, has thought, “this is a dark time for humanity.” You can bet that when the cavemen couldn’t find anything to kill and were forced to eat grass, they mumbled something similar. In those times of tumult a certain neighborly television character, with his pacifying voice, made everything seem a little brighter. That saint of sociable soothing was, of course, Mr. Rogers.

For nearly 40 years, Mr. Rogers brought calm, heartwarming simplicity to public television. Regardless of whatever strife the world witnessed, there’d always be Mr. Rogers and his tranquil neighborhood. Now that the silver screen’s version of Mr. Rogers, Tom Hanks, is set to portray the famously cardigan dressed muse of mental health. We thought it’s time to revisit his legacy. 

Rogers Felt He Could Do Better Than 'Horrible' Children's TV

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Tom Hanks Doing His Best Mr. Rogers (

Mr. Rogers's unusual route into children’s television was likely the very reason he flourished. After passing through Dartmouth College for a year, he continued on to Rollins College, a liberal arts school in Florida, earning a musical degree. Rogers graduated magna cum laude.

Then he got into television -- because he thought it was terrible.

Mr. Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine, “When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen.” Apparently, whatever dregs he saw on television was “something horrible on it with people throwing pies at one another.”