Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is an American half-hour children’s television series that was created and hosted by namesake Fred Rogers. The series originated in 1963 as Mister Rogers on CBC Television, and was later re-branded in 1966 as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on the regional Eastern Educational Network (EEN, a forerunner of today’s American Public Television), followed by its U.S. network debut on February 19, 1968, and it aired on NET and its successor, PBS, until August 31, 2001.
The series is aimed primarily at preschool ages 2 to 5, but has been stated by PBS as “appropriate for all ages”. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was produced by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, public broadcaster WQED and Rogers’ non-profit production company Family Communications, Inc.; previously known as Small World Enterprises prior to 1971, the company was renamed The Fred Rogers Company after Rogers’s death. In May 1997, the series surpassed Captain Kangaroo as the longest-running children’s television series, a record the series held until July 2002, when Sesame Street beat Mister Rogers’ record.
1. Popular for decades.
He was a very powerful influence on TV for kids everywhere.
2. He started off working for the big times!
When he graduated from college, he went to work for NBC in NYC as an assistant producer. However, once he learned that his hometown of Pittsburgh was starting a public television station. So, he gave up his career to go home to do the show and never looked back.
3. He spoke slowly for a good reason.
He discovered that if he used 124 words per minute that it was the correct pace for kids ages 3-5.
4. George Romero got his first job on the show.
Now famous for zombie filmmaking, George got his first paying gig on Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood shooting segments.
5. Michael Keaton also had his first job on this show.
He started at $2/hr and ended up making $2.25/hr and even appeared in some segments.
6. This wasn’t his first show.
In his earlier years, he produced and puppeteered ‘The Children’s Corner’ which was hosted by Josie Carey.
7. He used these shoes for a reason.
He also used them on ‘The Children’s Corner’ and he found them to be quieter when he moved around the set so he continued using them on ‘Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood’.
8. McFeely was his middle name.
He used his middle name as the mailman’s last name and years later, he regretted making it a part of the show.
9. He was quite the radical.
Even though the show had a childlike quality, it did deal with social change.
10. He used his puppets to convince the producer to do an episode about divorce.
He called up the host as the voice of Daniel Striped Tiger to convince her to do the episode.
11. The VCR was almost illegal until he saved it.
He once testified in the Universal Studios v. Song Corp. Of America where he sided with the VCR. Without his testimony, it would have been illegal to tape all shows.