Some 50 years after "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" had its national debut and 16 years after the last show aired, Fred Rogers’ legacy continues to inspire and encourage us. A new generation of children still hear Mister Rogers’ voice through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which is infused with lessons and themes from its predecessor show.
Music written by Josie Carey and Fred Rogers for the childrens show Children's Corner. A 1950s fund raiser for the show allowed children to send in a drawing of the puppets and tape pennies, nickels, and dimes to it. Everyone who entered got a copy of "Goodnight God," signed by the puppet characters. Fred helped write the show, but Josie Carey was the host. However, many of the characters and set pieces featured on this show were used again on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
In this letter, Fred informs William Schick that he is honored to be his Eagle Scout sponsor and looks forward to talking with him about his future. Honored at a dinner at the William Penn Hotel, each Eagle Scout attended with an individual sponsor from the community. Scout leaders matched scouts and sponsors based on shared interests. Due to Schick’s passion for music, troop leaders assigned Rogers as his sponsor.
Despite Mister Rogers' busy schedule he took the time to answer many letters from fans. History Center volunteer Jon Halpern wrote to Fred from 1985 until his death in 2003. Fred and Joanne Rogers often bumped into Jon at the grocery store where he worked and where the Rogers shopped. These personal interactions are discussed in the letters, which Jon donated to the Heinz History Center.
No episode of "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" would have been complete without “the sweater.” At the beginning of every show, Fred Rogers—singing his signature “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”—would go to his closet, take out a cardigan sweater and some comfortable sneakers, and put them on. At the end of the show, the whole ritual was reversed.
The original living room set from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" includes the entryway where Mister Rogers began and ended each show and a typical living room from the 1970s. Mister Rogers sat on the bench to change his shoes at the start and end of each episode. This bench, as well as much of the set furniture came from Sears, one of the early sponsors of the show.
Button featuring Daniel Striped Tiger from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." According to David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show, and Margaret Whitmer, the show's producer, Daniel Striped Tiger is the puppet who most embodied the characteristics of Mister Rogers. Daniel Tiger's creation is also linked to the origin of WQED. On March 31, 1954, Mrs. Daniel's, the head of WQED, had a party to celebrate the launch of the nation's first community-supported television station. Mrs. Daniels gifted Fred with a tiger puppet, which he named in her honor.
Chef Brockett wore this hat and apron, one of many sets, on the show. Chef Brockett appeared in early episodes of the show as the owner/operator of Brockett's Bakery. Don suffered from the effects of polio and the show did not shy away from discussing his disability. Fred made a point of having people on the show who used leg braces, wheelchairs and other aids in order to destigmatize disability for children.
A performer from a young age, Negri began playing the guitar as a teenager and joined a swing band at age 16. He entered Carnegie Tech in the 1950s to enhance his musical training. From there he began a 40-year television career on KDKA before he moved onto WTAE where he was an "on air performer" and musical director. Fans of the show remember him best as Handyman Negri on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," where he would play guitar duets with King Friday XIII and sing with Lady Elaine.
Francois Clemmons sang in the choir at Fred's church. Fred asked him to be play Officer Clemmons on the show in its debut year of 1968. As a black man who grew up in a poor neighborhood in the 1950s and 60s, Francois did not have a positive image of the police. But Fred convinced him that this Officer would be a helper and spread a more positive message than what Francois had expereienced. Through their friendship, Clemmons educated Fred on the ongoing struggle for racial justice. Together they sent a powerful message in 1960s America when they soaked their feet together in a pool at a time when civil rights activists in the south still fought to integrate pools.
Thank you to The Fred Rogers Company.