Mr. Rogers, the childrens television legend, passed away this morning. I was wondering if he is as well known outside of the US? Does someone in, say, England, think of cardigan sweaters, easy demeanor, lessons of kindness and civility, and plain sneakers when someone says “Fred Rogers”? Are there similar icons in other nations?
Mr Rogers was definitely an icon here in Canada.
But Canada also had Mr Dressup. A funny man with a Tickle Trunk that had all kinds of funny hats, shoes, and shirts in it. Along with his puppet buddies Casey and Finnegan.
Mr Rogers and Mr Dressup were a couple of my heroes growing up.
I’m sorry to say he’s virtually unknown in Japan. To be honest, until the news today I wasn’t even sure what he looked like. Children’s shows are not easy to adopt to other languages. (Except the Teletubbies - is it true it was specifically designed to be language-neutral?)
Mr. Rogers was not known in India at all. Infact, the first time I heard of him was in the news today.
Harli, that “Tickle Trunk” wasn’t attached to Mr. Dressup, was it?
Mr. Roger’s passing makes me sad.
I was online early this morning and read that news story. I almost called to my wife, then realized that my kids were sitting there watching his show. I think that would have set the world record for poor timing had I yelled out the news …
Sorry not heard of here in the UK either. This OP made me search for his site, seems he was a real nice guy, condolences to his family, friends, & ‘neighbourhood’ of kids at this sad time
To expand on what Ceefa’s Mate said, though I never met Fred Rogers, Dopers outside of Canda and the U.S. should be assured that he really was, by all accounts, a tremendously nice guy.
It had been observed numerous times that Rogers had a rapport with children while on-air that no one (or hardly anyone) else had. I recall a PBS documentary in which it was shown how small children would become excited and pretend to be having a conversation with him while watching him.
Last year the National Public Radio show This American Life ran a segment in which a man who had met Rogers as a child met him again. The man had met Rogers at Rogers’ house, and he had this peculiar memory that this home was actually made up like the set of the show. He decided, in retrospect, that he must have just had some of his puppets there with him with which to entertain children. No, said Rogers: he probably only had done some of the voices of the puppets to entertain him. He was so good at creating a world of make-believe for children that he was able to cause the man to conjure up a whole pretend world in the man’s memory.
I was about 14 when Mr. Rogers first came onto my local PBS station, yet I remember watching the show, fascinated, a few times. Later, as an adult, I found that watching him with my neice and nephew was satisfying in a way that other children’s television was not. I recall an interview with Mr. Rogers on public radio where the reporter told Rogers about being stuck in a motel, bored and lonely, one day, and watching his show straight through and feeling better.
A key to Rogers’ appeal to children and to adults, I think, was that he genuinely treated children with importance and dignity. When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, he talked about it on-air to children, knowing that many of them had seen the news on TV. Another time he produced a special for parents to watch with their children about coping with upsetting and frightening things in the news.
Something else he did: prior to the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz he had Margarret Hamilton as a guest. She talked about the movie and showed how she made up for the part of the Wicked Witch of the West. I remember how she gave me the willies when I was small, and thinking how grateful I would have been if I had seen a show like that when I was four or five.
Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, but never invoked religion on TV. Instead he talked about decency and kindness and tolerance in a way anyone could relate to.
He really will be missed.
“I almost called to my wife, then realized that my kids were sitting there watching his show. I think that would have set the world record for poor timing had I yelled out the news …”
—I’m sorry, but that is too funny. Your poor kids would be afraid to turn on the TV. “Daddy will point and yell, ‘He’s dead! He’s dead!’”
SCSimmons – PBS has a very nice page on talking to your kids about Mr. Rogers’ death.
I cried when I read the news this morning.
Here’s the Cafe Society memorial thread.
No kidding, Eve.
My mother worked with someone who went to high school with Mr. Rogers (since he’s from Latrobe, which is very close to Pittsburgh). According to what she heard, he was seen as kind of a nerd in high school, but he was always that nice, kind, polite and soft-spoken individual.
The world has lost a wonderful human being.
One of the last times I saw Mr. Rogers in public, he was at a book signing for kids, and got ambushed by Howard Stern’s flunky Stuttering John, who tried to ask him a lot of embarrassing questions.
To his credit, Mr. Rogers never took the bait. He stayed calm and polite, responding to questions like “Would you like to mow down Barney with a machine gun” with a soft “No. Would you?”
I laughed at his schtick as hard as anyone when I was a teen, but to his credit, he seemed like a genuinely nice man who was warm but quietly dignified.
Mr. Rogers was a natural target for parodists, but most of them treated him respectfully, and he seemed not to mind.
The first such parody I recall was by the Firesign Theater. They did a bit on one of their records in which Rogers was interviewing a black jazz musician. The sketch ended with Rogers asking if the man would like to come along with him as he visited the land of make-believe. The musician, misinterpreting, said thanks, but he tought it was a little early in the day for that…
Then there were the frequent bits on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion. One bit which came to mind was a record called “Mr. Rogers Talks to Cats”; “Mr. litter box is sad. Do you know why? Because you haven’t been visiting him like you should…” It will be interesting to hear if Keillor has anything to say about his passing this weekend.
Come to think of it, there was an institution which didn’t show Rogers respect besides Howard Stern’s show. In the 1970s The National Review–William F. Buckley’s magazine–denounced him. As near as I can recall, it claimed that watching him was going to turn children into pacifist faggots.
It is part of the greatness of America that people with obnoxious, off-the-wall opinions can express them openly. And part of the weakness of America that they can often find a substantial minority of people to buy their crud…
My favorite parody was Eddie Murphy’s “Mr. Robinson’ Neighborhood” on SNL. It was set in an inner-city tenement and each episode ended with Eddie escaping out the window while the cops beat down the front door.
Wimpy, wampy, wombley
I first heard of his passing while listening to the radio to see if school was delayed.
Mr. Rogers dying + finding out you have to go to school= one crappy day
He meant a lot to me, you know.
Mind out of the gutter, you. It was a red treasure chest.
Ernie “Mr. Dressup” Coombs died a few years ago, BTW. I feel old now…
Act 1 - about 5 minutes in…