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@ninjapornstar on the gram, Male, 92, from The Land of Make-Believe
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Oct 20, 2015
- Mar 20, 1928 (Age: 92)
- Home Page:
- The Land of Make-Believe
- Teaching children to love who they are
Latrobe, Pennsylvania is responsible for two main exports worthy of note: Rolling Rock bottled beer, and America's best loved television neighbor, Mister Rogers.
Frederick McFeely Rogers was born in 1928, a year before the stock market crash brought about the Great Depression. His company, Family Communications, made over one thousand television programs at the studios of WQED in Pittsburgh; each designed to help children understand our often baffling world.
He wasn't an actor, but a child development specialist who gave children the confidence to talk about their feelings, express themselves through art, and imagine make-believe worlds. His offscreen lifestyle was identical to that of his television persona: a reassuring adult who was not only happy to sit and talk, but one who managed to live out his entire life without the slightest whisper of scandal -- unless you count one the time he nearly missed a hole while buttoning up his cardigan. He wrote the scripts, the music, the dialog between players, and all the songs in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The program started in 1968, and ultimately became longest-running program on PBS.
The opening theme, Won't You Be My Neighbor, is meant as a genuine invitation to the viewer. Each program conforms to a simple pattern, with all of Mister Rogers' actions encouraging a deeper understanding of the outside world. The act of arriving onstage in a formal suit and tie, then changing into both a colorful sweater and beige or navy blue loafers is meant to mirror what a child witnesses as his parents leave for work in the morning and come home at night. Each visit begins with an introductory discussion of something he's brought along with him: art supplies, a kite, sticks of chalk, even a bear costume.
In the late 1960s, the U.S. Senate was considering cutting in half an important twenty million dollar grant for so-called "public broadcasting". Fred, not yet famous with adults, was invited to speak and submit a paper at the hearing. He would plead his case -- what makes public television different, why his program differs from cartoons and violence elsewhere on the dial -- and he would do so before the notoriously gruff and impatient Senator John O. Pastore [D] from Rhode Island. Pastore was the first Italian American elected to the United States Senate in 1950.
Senator Pastore: All right Rogers, you got the floor.
Fred Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement [motioning to a text copy of the essay he'd submitted] and would take about ten minutes to read, so I'll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust, and I trust what you've said, that you'll read this. It's very important to me, I care deeply about children, my first--
Senator Pastore: [interrupting] Will it make you happy if you read it?
Fred Rogers: I'd -- just like to talk about it, if it's all right --
Senator Pastore: [interrupting] Fine.
Fred Rogers: This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, "you've made this day a special day by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are." I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service.
Senator Pastore: [After a long pause] I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy. This is the first time I've had goose bumps in the last two days.
Fred Rogers: Well I'm grateful. Not only for your goose bumps, but for your interest in our kind of communication.
Fred spoke for about six minutes total, taking the time to recite lyrics from one of his songs.
Fred Rogers: Know that there's something deep inside, that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.
Senator Pastore: [visibly misty and touched] I think it's wonderful. That is just so wonderful. Looks like you just won the twenty million dollars.
There was a moment at the 1998 Daytime Emmys when Mister Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tom Junod covered the story for Esquire magazine.
"...Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award -- and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone: All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.
And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, I'll watch the time. There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds -- and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, May God be with you to all his vanquished children."
Signature"Won't you be my neighbor?"