69 Facts About Mister Rogers


Mister Rogers was the creator, showrunner, and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001.

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Mister Rogers began his television career at NBC in New York, returning to Pittsburgh in 1953 to work for children's programming at NET television station WQED.

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Mister Rogers graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a bachelor's degree in divinity in 1962 and became a Presbyterian minister in 1963.

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Mister Rogers attended the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development, where he began his 30-year collaboration with child psychologist Margaret McFarland.

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Mister Rogers helped develop the children's shows The Children's Corner for WQED in Pittsburgh and Misterogers in Canada for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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Mister Rogers died of stomach cancer on February 27,2003,3 weeks before the age of 75.

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Mister Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.

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Mister Rogers influenced many writers and producers of children's television shows, and his broadcasts have served as a source of comfort during tragic events, even after his death.

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Mister Rogers was born on March 20,1928 at 705 Main Street in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

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Mister Rogers's father, James Hillis Rogers, was "a very successful businessman" who was president of the McFeely Brick Company, one of Latrobe's largest businesses.

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Mister Rogers's father, Fred Brooks McFeely, after whom Rogers was named, was an entrepreneur.

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Mister Rogers grew up in a large three-story brick house at 737 Weldon Street in Latrobe.

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Mister Rogers had a sister, Elaine, whom the Rogerses adopted when he was 11 years old.

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Mister Rogers spent much of his childhood alone, playing with puppets, and spent time with his grandfather.

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Mister Rogers was bullied as a child for his weight, and called "Fat Freddy".

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Mister Rogers attended Latrobe High School, where he overcame his shyness.

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Mister Rogers became president of the student council, a member of the National Honor Society, and editor-in-chief of the school yearbook.

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Mister Rogers registered for the draft in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1948 at age 20, where he was classified 1-A.

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Mister Rogers regularly appeared before church officials to maintain his ordination.

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Mister Rogers wanted to enter seminary after college, but instead chose to go into the nascent medium of television after encountering a TV at his parents' home in 1951 during his senior year at Rollins College.

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In 1953, Mister Rogers returned to Pittsburgh to work as a program developer at public television station WQED.

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Mister Rogers worked off-camera to develop puppets, characters, and music for the show.

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Mister Rogers used many of the puppet characters developed during this time, such as Daniel the Striped Tiger, King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, X the Owl, Henrietta, and Lady Elaine, in his later work.

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Mister Rogers attended the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development, where he began working with child psychologist Margaret McFarland—who, according to Rogers's biographer Maxwell King, became his "key advisor and collaborator" and "child-education guru".

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Much of Mister Rogers's "thinking about and appreciation for children was shaped and informed" by McFarland.

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Mister Rogers was his consultant for most of Mister Rogers' Neighborhoods scripts and songs for 30 years.

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In 1963, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto contracted Rogers to develop and host the 15-minute black-and-white children's program Misterogers; it lasted from 1963 to 1967.

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Mister Rogers worked with Coombs on the children's show Butternut Square from 1964 to 1967.

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Mister Rogers acquired the rights to Misterogers in 1967 and returned to Pittsburgh with his wife, two young sons, and the sets he developed, despite a potentially promising career with CBC and no job prospects in Pittsburgh.

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The format of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood "remained virtually unchanged" for the entire run of the program.

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Mister Rogers often feeds his fish, cleans up any props he has used, and returns to the front room, where he sings the closing song while changing back into his dress shoes and jacket.

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Mister Rogers' Neighborhood emphasized young children's social and emotional needs, and unlike another PBS show, Sesame Street, which premiered in 1969, did not focus on cognitive learning.

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Writer Kathy Merlock Jackson said, "While both shows target the same preschool audience and prepare children for kindergarten, Sesame Street concentrates on school-readiness skills while Mister Rogers Neighborhood focuses on the child's developing psyche and feelings and sense of moral and ethical reasoning".

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The Neighborhood spent fewer resources on research than Sesame Street, but Rogers used early childhood education concepts taught by his mentor Margaret McFarland, Benjamin Spock, Erik Erikson, and T Berry Brazelton in his lessons.

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Mister Rogers tackled difficult topics such as the death of a family pet, sibling rivalry, the addition of a newborn into a family, moving and enrolling in a new school, and divorce.

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Mister Rogers wrote and edited all the episodes, played the piano and sang for most of the songs, wrote 200 songs and 13 operas, created all the characters, played most of the major puppet roles, hosted every episode, and produced and approved every detail of the program.

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In 1971, Mister Rogers formed Family Communications, Inc, to produce the Neighborhood, other programs, and non-broadcast materials.

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In 1975, Mister Rogers stopped producing Mr Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to focus on adult programming.

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Mister Rogers continued to confer with McFarland about child development and early childhood education, however.

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In 1979, after an almost five-year hiatus, Mister Rogers returned to producing the Neighborhood; King calls the new version "stronger and more sophisticated than ever".

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Mister Rogers retired from producing the Neighborhood in 2001 at age 73, although reruns continued to air.

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In 1969, Mister Rogers testified before the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications, which was chaired by Democratic Senator John Pastore of Rhode Island.

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Mister Rogers's guests included Hoagy Carmichael, Helen Hayes, Milton Berle, Lorin Hollander, poet Robert Frost's daughter Lesley, and Willie Stargell.

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Mister Rogers's visit was taped and later aired in March 1988 as part of Rogers's program.

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In 1994, Mister Rogers wrote, produced, and hosted a special for PBS called Fred Mister Rogers' Heroes, which featured interviews and portraits of four people from across the country who were having a positive impact on children and education.

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The first time Mister Rogers appeared on television as an actor, and not himself, was in a 1996 episode of Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, playing a preacher.

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Mister Rogers was "one of the country's most sought-after commencement speakers", making over 150 speeches.

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Mister Rogers's tone was quiet and informal but "commanded attention".

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Mister Rogers met Sara Joanne Byrd from Jacksonville, Florida, while attending Rollins College.

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Joanne Mister Rogers was "an accomplished pianist", who like Fred earned a Bachelor of Music from Rollins, and went on to earn a Master of Music from Florida State University.

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Mister Rogers performed publicly with her college classmate, Jeannine Morrison, from 1976 to 2008.

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Mister Rogers became a pescatarian in 1970, after the death of his father, and a vegetarian in the early 1980s, saying he "couldn't eat anything that had a mother".

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Mister Rogers became a co-owner of Vegetarian Times in the mid-1980s and said in one issue, "I love tofu burgers and beets".

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Mister Rogers told Vegetarian Times that he became a vegetarian for both ethical and health reasons.

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Mister Rogers was a registered Republican, but according to Joanne Mister Rogers, he was "very independent in the way he voted", choosing not to talk about politics because he wanted to be impartial.

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Rogers was a Presbyterian, and many of the messages he expressed in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were inspired by the core tenets of Christianity.

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Mister Rogers rarely spoke about his faith on air; he believed that teaching through example was as powerful as preaching.

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Mister Rogers said, "You don't need to speak overtly about religion in order to get a message across".

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Mister Rogers studied Catholic mysticism, Judaism, Buddhism, and other faiths and cultures.

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King wrote that Mister Rogers saw responding to his viewers' letters as "a pastoral duty of sorts".

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Mister Rogers began swimming when he was a child at his family's vacation home outside Latrobe, where they owned a pool, and during their winter trips to Florida.

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Mister Rogers delayed treatment until after he served as Grand Marshal of the 2003 Rose Parade, with Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby in January.

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Mister Rogers died less than two months later, on February 27,2003, at his home in Pittsburgh, with his wife of 50 years, Joanne, at his side.

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Mister Rogers was interred at Unity Cemetery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in a mausoleum owned by his mother's family.

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Josh Selig, creator of Wonder Pets, credits Mister Rogers with influencing his use of structure and predictability, and his use of music, opera, and originality.

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Mister Rogers inspired Angela Santomero, co-creator of the children's television show Blue's Clues, to earn a degree in developmental psychology and go into educational television.

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Mister Rogers told interviewer David Letterman in 1982 that he believed parodies like Murphy's were done "with kindness in their hearts".

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Roadside Pennsylvania Historical Marker dedicated to Mister Rogers to be installed in Latrobe was approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on March 4,2014.

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Mister Rogers has received honorary degrees from over 43 colleges and universities.

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