Fred Rogers would be 86 today. He was the kindest, most gentle adult that most kids my age every knew. He spoke to us as people and inspired us to think about our feelings. He taught us empathy and compassion. He changed our lives and the world is a better place because of him. Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Rogers. Style Icon.
NAME: Fred McFeely Rogers
OCCUPATION: Minister, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: March 20, 1928
DEATH DATE: February 27, 2003
EDUCATION: Rollins College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
PLACE OF BIRTH: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
AKA: Mister Rogers
BEST KNOWN FOR: The much-loved host of the public television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran on PBS from 1968 to 2001.
Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, author, and television host. Rogers was most famous for creating and hosting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), that featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences.
Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. The Public Broadcasting System developed his own nationally-aired show in 1968 and, over the course of three decades on television, he became an indelible American icon of children’s entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of time shifting was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children’s television.
Rogers was honored extensively for his life work in children’s education. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor; a Peabody Award for his career; and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Two resolutions recognizing his work were unanimously passed by U.S. Congress, one of his trademark sweaters was acquired and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, and several buildings and works of art in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory.
In 1996, Mister Fred Rogers was ranked #35 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.
I’m not that interested in ‘mass’ communications. I’m much more interested in what happens between this person and the one person watching. The space between the television set and that person who’s watching is very holy ground.
These two clips will remind you of his power and vision and stay with you the whole day:
In 1997, Fred Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys. His acceptance speech is one of the most gentle, moving, humble, and powerful statements I’ve seen in a long time. Even the way he accepts the award from Tim Robbins — in a gentle, curious manner, just standing back and calmly smiling at the crowd — it’s amazing. As the clip ends, his standing ovation begins.
His speech that he made before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He passionately argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in media and in popular culture.