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20 Mr Rogers Facts That Fans Might Have Missed

Ra'eesah Manack
Jan 24, 2020
10:08 A.M.
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Fred Rogers was the face behind “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for over 30 years and nearly 1,000 shows. He was reportedly the same generous, amicable, neighborly man off-camera too.


Fred Rogers was an innovator of children’s television. He left his mark on an entire generation with his gentle nature and kindness. 

He was also a musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. Here are 20 facts about Fred Rogers that fans might not know. 

Fred Rogers, the host of the children's television series, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," rests his arms on a small trolley in this promotional portrait from the 1980's. | Getty Images


1. Fred Rogers Was Bullied as a Child

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary called "Mister Rogers & Me," Rogers was overweight and shy as a child. He was regularly taunted by his classmates. Rogers said:

"I used to cry to myself when I was alone. And I would cry through my fingers and makeup songs on the piano."

2. Rogers Left Dartmouth College After A Year

Rogers was actually an Ivy League dropout. He attended Dartmouth for his freshman year before he transferred to Rollins College. In the end, he pursued a degree in music.


Fred Rogers smiles after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from U.S. President George W. Bush, during a ceremony at the White House | Getty Images

3. He Was An Accomplished Musician

Rogers transferred to Rollins College to pursue a degree in music. He graduated Magna cum laude. He is a talented songwriter and can play the piano.


4. He Wrote The Music For Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Over the years, he wrote all the songs for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" as well as hundreds more.

Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, donates his famous red cardigan sweater to the National Museum of American History | Getty Images


5. Playing The Piano Was His Favorite Stress-Reducer

Rogers reportedly began to feel anxious or overwhelmed. To help calm his nerves, he would play the "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" theme song on the piano.

6. He Had A Strict Daily Routine

Rogers reportedly stuck to a strict schedule every day. His day started at 5 a.m. and was followed by the time for prayer and study. He then spent time writing, phone calls, swimming, and responding to his fan mail.


7. He Weighed Himself Daily

Another part of Rogers's daily routine included a daily weigh-in. It is reported that the star liked to maintain a weight of exactly 143 pounds.

8. His Weight Had A Special Meaning

The weight of 143 pounds had a special meaning to him. He once said:

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

Fred Rogers was the host of the popular long-running public television children's show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. | Getty Images


9. Pennsylvania Celebrated 143 DAY IN 2019

In 2019 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born near Pittsburgh.

143 Day campaign sims to honor Rogers with his own holiday and the individuals behind the 143 Day campaign wanted to encourage people to be kind to their neighbors on May 23.

Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, donates his famous red cardigan sweater to the National Museum of American History | Getty Images


10. Rogers Responded To Every Fan Letter He Received

Rogers took the time to respond to his fan mail personally. He reportedly penned a response to every letter he received. This was approximately 50 to 100 letters per day. Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He respected the kids who wrote. He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

Portrait of American educator and television personality Fred Rogers (1928 - 2003) of the television series 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' circa 1980s. | Getty Images


11. No Feeling Was Too Big For Mr. Rogers

Over many years, Fred worked with children. He openly spoke about his and their feelings on every sort of topic. He spoke about every topic from why children should not be afraid of haircuts to divorce and war.

12. Rogers Did Not Like Ad-Libbing

Rogers was a perfectionist and disliked ad-libbing. He wanted every word on his show to be thought out because he owed it to the children.

American television personality Fred Rogers (1928 - 2003), of the television show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, at the Chicago Public Library | Getty Images


13. Rogers Had A Special Way to Talk to Kids

Mr. Rogers was able to connect with children in a special way. He knew how children thought, liked, feared, and struggled to understand. Maxwell King, an author, said Rogers was “extraordinarily good at imagining where children’s minds might go.” 

14. Rogers Used King Friday to make Friday The 13th Less Scary

Fans of "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" will remember that King Friday XIII, who reigned over Calendarland, was born on Friday the 13th. His birthday was celebrated on the program every Friday the 13th. 


Rogers explained that he wanted to give children a reason to look forward to Friday the 13th. He wanted an alternative to them being scared by the superstitions on the dreaded date. In 1999, he said: 

"We thought, ‘Let’s start children out thinking that Friday the 13th was a fun day. So we would celebrate his birthday every time a Friday the 13th came."

Fred Rogers is the host, writer, and producer of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. | Getty Images


15. Rogers Was An Ordained Presbyterian Minister

Rogers was an ordained minister and preached tolerance wherever he went. Rogers once responded to a fan who said he was going to heaven writing:

"You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood."

Actor Fred Rogers holding a balloon and puppets in the public TV childrens program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood | Getty Images


16. Rogers Was Not A Fan Of Foul Language

Rogers used the word mercy when he was feeling overwhelmed. He was reportedly heard saying it when he sat down at his desk. He never used foul language.

17. Rogers Was Not A Fan Of Television 

When Rogers decided to work on television was actually because he wasn’t out of a love for the medium.  He told Pittsburgh Magazine saying:

"When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible. And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."


Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood holds Henrietta Pussycat (left) and "X" the Owl during an interview. | Getty Images

18. There is A Reason the Stoplight Was Yellow In The Opening Sequence Of The Show

In the opening sequence of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," the stoplight was always on yellow. It was meant to serve as a reminder to children and their parents to slow down a little.


19. Rogers Believed That Patience Was A Virtue

Rogers wasn't afraid of dead air and once invited a marine biologist onto the show and put a microphone into his fish tank. He wanted the kids at home to see and hear that fish make sounds when they eat.

While taping the segment, however, the fish weren't hungry and the marine biologist tried to egg the fish on but Rogers just waited there patiently. The crew thought they would need to retape the show but Rogers decided it was a great lesson in teaching kids the importance of being patient.

20. Rogers Always Announced That He Was Feeding His Fish

Rogers always mentioned out loud that he was feeding his fish. He began doing so to ensure a young blind viewer who had once asked him to do so because she wanted to know the fish were OK.