Saturday, May 11, 2013

To end our day here are 6 amazing facts about Mr. Rogers to help you love him even more.

Courtesy of Ned Hardy:

1. He basically saved public television. In 1969 the government wanted to cut public television funds. Mister Rogers then went to Washington where he gave an amazing merely six minute speech. By the end of the speech not only did he charm the hostile Senators, he got them to double the budget they would have initially cut down. The whole thing can be found on youtube, a video called “Mister Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate.” 

2. “Certain fundamentalist preachers hated him because, apparently not getting the “kindest man who ever lived” memo, they would ask him to denounce homosexuals. Mr. Rogers’s response? He’d pat the target on the shoulder and say, “God loves you just as you are.” Rogers even belonged to a “More Light” congregation in Pittsburgh, a part of the Presbyterian Church dedicated to welcoming LGBT persons to full participation in the church.” 

3. 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 we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.” 

4. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s 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 driver’s 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 life—the 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. 

5. 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 don’t 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 she’d always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off! 

6. 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 wouldn’t be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting "It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood." The result made Rogers smile wide.

I have said it before, but it always bears repeating that if ALL Christians conducted their lives as Fred Rogers conducted his, I would constantly seek out their company and do everything in my power to protect their religious freedom.


  1. He always made me uncomfortable with his milquetoast approach to children, but I’m prepared to admit I was wrong.

    1. fromthediagonal7:07 PM

      Darlene, my daughter and I just talked about this, and she said that, as a child, Mr. Rogers always made her uncomfortable. I told her I always had that same ambivalence. I did not feel good with the Romper Room program in the early seventies either. (I think that was a local program which always ended in "God is Great, God is Good" prayer).

      Maybe we are wrong, maybe he just was Real, a gentle soul, a Peacenik/Buddhist of a sort, in a cardigan. If so, I apologize for any skepticism voiced.

    2. Anonymous8:21 PM

      He was a gentle voice that mixed perfectly with the sillier Sesame Street and the louder Electric Company.

      Are you saying he wasn't real, a gentle soul, and a peacenik? Do you think he had other motivations?

    3. angela2:20 AM

      I loved Mr. Rogers. I used to care for a friend's children. Their lives were in uproar with their parent's bad marriage, etc. I'd bring them to my house, take them to the park and museums---which no one ever had time for at home. But their favorite thing in the whole world was to sit down and watch Mr. Rogers. They were so calm and enraptured during those thirty minutes. They loved him so and would start smiling when they hear the neighborhood song.

      But interesting enough, their mother hated Mr. Rogers. He made her uncomfortable because she thought a "man" shouldn't act like that. I guess she thought he should have acted more like the
      fiance who left her pregnant, the father who disowned her and the husband who screamed profanities at her. Sigh.

    4. I had no problem with Mr. Rogers at all, and his gentle, accepting personality was very nice for my children (especially, as noted above, in combination with the heartier, sillier Sesame Street).

      However, the puppets thoroughly creeped me out! (I hate clowns, too.)

    5. Anonymous5:39 AM

      Mr. Rogers spoke openly and honestly with children about topics such as coping with divorce. I recently came across such an episode and got choked up realizing that I'd seen the very episode shortly before my own parents' turbulent separation, and that his words helped me immensely for what was to come.

    6. Anonymous10:24 AM

      I'm from Pittsburgh, and knew Fred Eogers. He was, and remains, the most genuine human being I have ever met. The man you saw on television was no different, not one iota different, from the man himself. As a defense we all expect some guile, some bit of manipulativeness, in the people we meet. Fred had none, absolutely none.

      And because of that, he could freak people out - at least initially. Once it sunk in how real he was, you rejoiced that such a person was in the world.

    7. Mr Rogers once filmed an episode at my neighbor's house. Beforehand, we joked that he probably swore like a sailor and smoked ugly cigars.

      Afterward, she told us that he as exactly like he was on the show, but, she said it was an exhausting day - as he paid attention to her and what she said 100%

      Mr Rogers is one of my biggest heros.

  2. Anonymous5:29 PM

    I love it when you pay homage to Fred Rogers.

    Only a parent can comprehend the value of Mr. Rogers.

  3. yukonark5:36 PM

    Thanks, Gryphen - it's always a beautiful day when you post something about Mister Rogers.

  4. Anonymous5:45 PM

    OT This is really something! First Chuck Heath Jr. posted the details of his father's heart operation, advising the Alaska readers not to come to the hospital because Dad didn't want people to see him with all those tubes in him.

    Guess what photo Chuck Jr. just posted on his Facebook. Yes, it's Dad (Chuck Heath Sr.) lying in the hospital bed with tubes in him-- exactly what the way he didn't want to be seen. Chuck Jr. was so happy that Dad woke up and raised his thumb, giving the "thumbs up." Still, Chuck Jr. has posted a photo of his mother lying in a hospital bed following her hip surgery, and now, Chuck Senior.

    I don't know Chuck Sr. and Jr., but the thing that I didn't like about them was the way that they traded on Sarah's celebrity to become little stars of their own. The example is the book they wrote together and tried to promote on a book tour. Chuck Jr. posted updates about the book tour, including their inability to wash their own underwear.

    The problem with what I've seen of the Heath and Palin Families is the way that they use each other to promote themselves. Chuck Jr. is brimming with importance, posting updates of his father. And whether I like Chuck Sr. or not, he IS entitled to his privacy, especially since he requested it in the first place. Note to Gryphen: take a screen shot of Chuck Sr. in the hospital bed before someone reminds Jr. that Dad wanted privacy.

    1. Anonymous9:46 AM

      the f*ck are you talking about?

    2. Troll vs Troll10:44 AM


      Are you not able to comprehend? If not, re-read.

  5. Anonymous5:57 PM

    I always tuned in to Mr. Rogers when my children were small...not so much for them as for me. #5-the Koko story-is my favorite! Amazing.

  6. Anonymous5:57 PM

    Even though there a lot of people in this country that I don't agree with I will forever feel that any of them and all of them can express themselves. That's what this country is all about. Religious Freedom is a basic tenet in America and whether we agree or not everyone should be able to express themselves.

    1. I agree so long as exercising somebody's religious freedom does not include oppressing the rights of others.

    2. Anonymous6:45 PM

      Sorry 5:57! I detest the supposed christians shoving their religion down our throats. Plus, most christians don't act like one or live the teachings...example: Sarah Palin!

  7. A good time for this William Faulkner quote I came across yesterday:

    "No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only.

    Whatever its symbol — cross or crescent or whatever — that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race. Its various allegories are the charts against which he measures himself and learns to know what he is.

    It cannot teach a man to be good as the textbook teaches him mathematics. It shows him how to discover himself, evolve for himself a moral code and standard within his capacities and aspirations, by giving him a matchless example of suffering and sacrifice and the promise of hope."

    1. Anonymous7:14 PM

      Very thought provoking; thanks.

    2. Then clearly we can't agree on what Christianity means, as that's not what it means. Christianity is a religion based on a belief in Christ, nothing more.

  8. Two of my sons met Mr. Rogers at a book signing and still have the books that he autographed for them. They loved him when they were children and still speak of him with fond memories as adults - even though they've suffered some teasing from their friends who were not fans. I wish there were more people like Mr. Rogers in the world!

  9. Anonymous6:43 PM

    What a sweet man! I had no idea of his goodness. We didn't have TV when I was a kid and teenager, so never did or have seen his show. Just heard about him when I was older.

  10. I used to work with a guy who had lived in Rogers' neighborhood -- not the TV one but the real world one. He told me that Rogers was one of the only authentic people he'd ever met, and that there was nothing he wouldn't do for his neighbors. He never preached to anybody, he never took out billboards announcing his religion, he never tried to force the world to conform to what some preacher said. All he did was live his beliefs.

  11. Anonymous7:18 PM

    My kids watched him. I loved his calmness and ability to relate through the medium. he was a born teacher...always sharing his delight in the universe and the small things that mean so much to us all.
    He and Jimmy Carter are the bext examples of true heroes I know...never thinking of themselves, always helping others.

    1. Anonymous9:50 AM

      It pains me to hear such derisive criticisms of President Carter. I always though he was just too good a Christian for the rest of America.

  12. Anita Winecooler8:46 PM

    The more I read about him, the more I miss him. His humility speaks volumes, no wonder kids love him!

    OT. For Mother's day, We're going to "the howling woods", a magical place where you meet, feed and interact with wolves and wolf dogs. My kids outdid themselves this year!

    Check it out!

    1. What a great gift, enjoy it.
      Happy Mother's Day, Anita!

    2. Anita Winecooler5:34 PM

      The farm was even better than I imagined!

      Thanks, and Happy Mother's Day!

  13. Anonymous8:51 PM

    If you ever read Tim Madigan's book I'm Proud of You it will give you a very vivid picture of just how thoughtful and kind Fred Rogers was. I never knew about him until my 27 year old daughter gave me the book to read. She grew up watching him and always loved him and that book really cemented the great opinion she had of him.

  14. WakeUpAmerica8:55 PM

    According to Snopes, the car story is undetermined, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were true.

  15. Anonymous9:57 PM

    The same gang of evil pukes who made the phrase "family values" into one denoting adulterers, tax cheats, pedophiles, and thieves, is going to eventually make the word "Christian" into one nobody will want to admit to being.

    1. Anonymous9:48 AM

      I agree with you. I already denounce so-called "Christians" for the hypocrisy that is so apparent to an outsider.

    2. Anonymous7:47 PM

      Wow...bigot much? Judging an entire group of people by the few you have met or heard about (who obviously aren't meeting YOUR standards of the label they've chosen for themselves)...oh yes, that proves that you are a better person than any of them could possibly be. I admire your greatness in tolerance and diversity. I truly hope you let go of the anger and forgive whoever hurt you so deeply. It's self-destructive.

  16. This is a man I idolized as a child (now mind you, my mother dated Jim Henson in college, and I was involved with PBS at an early age, I loved Sesame Street, but I really loved "Rogers") I remember trying to put on my own cardigan sweater at he beginning of the show with the hanger still in it, chanting "Rogers".

    This guy was awesome.

    For those of you who disagree, I point you to this link:

  17. I enjoyed this post and I agree, Mister Rogers is a fond childhood memory and was a remarkable human being. Wish there was someone like him for my children to learn from instead of all the silly programs found on TV today.

  18. Anonymous2:12 AM

    Four more items about Fred Rogers:
    1) My son and I used to watch him together, and, for some reason, my son called him "Boof." We sent a note to Mr. Rogers to tell him this. He wrote back to my son, and signed the letter "Boof." We cherish this sweet and simple note.
    2)I believe he was a Presbyterian minister, or studied for the ministry.
    3)My brother was killed by a drunken driver a week after my son was born. I spent days alone with an infant, overwhelmed with sadness. Somehow, I stumbled on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Thereafter, I watched him every weekday, and found incredible solace in his looking straight into the camera -- straight at me -- telling me "I love you just the way you are."
    4) The sister of a friend was one of his first producers in Pittsburgh. She reported that he was just as kind and genuine in person as he was on camera.
    Mr. Rogers personified the Christianity I learned as a child in a very "low church" Episcopalian parish. The shrill fundamentalists such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and the others are not Christians -- they do not follow the teaching of Jesus. Fred Rogers did, in every aspect of his life.
    He showed by example what a true, humble and loving
    life was all about.

  19. Anonymous9:46 AM

    thank you so much for this piee, Gryph! It took me back to my son's early years when we watched Mr. Rogers together. Reading about him gave me that same feeling when watching his show -- a gentle world where you are loved just the way you are.

  20. Anonymous10:02 AM

    Thank you Gryphen, I am so glad I found your site, oh my gosh, it's been 6 years ago now, while looking for info on the crazy whackadoodle John McCain picked for a running mate.

    I love this post, and was laughing out loud at #3, and had a huge smile on my face by #6.

    I agree about the Christians.

    Thank you for all that you do!

    R in NC

  21. I watched Mr Roger's Neighborhood growing up and am glad to know these things about the man. We unfortunately hear so often about seemingly wholesome people, involved with children's shows and programming, that end up getting caught doing very unwholesome things. Fred Rogers was not one of these people. Whatever you may have thought about him, the truth is he was a kind and caring man who wanted nothing more than to help others and children in particular. We should all look to his legacy. Learn from it and hopefully create a better and safer childhood for our own children.

  22. Anonymous8:40 AM

    if you ask me Mr Rogers shows that it reasonable to say that not everyone in the world is a pervert!

  23. Anonymous12:41 AM

    Mr. Rogers Wow so much SHAKTI was expecting that......:)

  24. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Mr Rogers was and always will remain a great man. The world could certainly use a man like him now.


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