On August 31st, 2001, local station WQED aired the last episode of the locally produced and much-loved show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Over the course of 31 seasons and 895 episodes, Mr. Rogers taught kids to feel good about themselves, showed them how to respect others, helped them learn skills they would need growing up, and always encouraged kindness. He never shied away from covering more difficult topics such as the death of a pet, divorce, or how to deal with angry feelings.
A few interesting facts about Mr. Rogers and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood:
- Mr. Rogers began playing the piano at age 5 and wrote the lyrics and melodies of most of the music used on the show.
- The sweaters that Mr. Rogers wore on the show were all knit by his mother.
- George Romero and Michael Keaton each started their careers working on the set of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
- He was once serenaded with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” on a subway.
- Mr. Rogers was friends with Koko the Gorilla, who was an avid watcher of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
- Residents of the Land of Make-Believe are named after Mr. Rogers’ family and friends.
- In 1969, when public television funding was threatened with cuts, Mr. Rogers testified before a Senate Subcommittee about the effect of positive television programming on children, which led to an increase in funding.
- He later testified in the court case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., and his testimony later influenced the Supreme Court’s decision to allow VCR recordings of television shows at home.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood can still be seen on PBS and streaming services, but today kids can enjoy Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an animated show based on the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
Would you like to learn more about Fred Rogers or introduce your children to a beloved show from your childhood? Here are some resources to get you started.
Dear Mister Rogers: Does it Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?
A collection of children’s letters to Mr. Rogers and his replies, addressing their real concerns and fears.
Mr. Rogers: A Biography of the Wonderful Life of Fred Rogers
Learn more about Fred Rogers’ life away from the set of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Mr. Rogers
Reporter Tim Madigan met Mr. Rogers in 1995 and what began as a newspaper assignment turned into a long-lasting friendship. This collection of letters and emails between the two shows how they helped each other through difficult times up to the time of Mr. Rogers death in 2003.