Memories of Mr. Rogers from the old children’s television show bring to mind a soft-spoken man who sang and wore signature sweaters. You were either glued to the TV or you skipped out because it was boring, but that didn’t change the fact that he made an impression on you.
There were things about Mr. Rogers that were unique to him, and during a time when audiences didn’t know about the personal lives of their favorite “celebs”, his persona always seemed warm. And he was that way in real life too. Mrs. Joanne Rogers, wife of beloved Fred Rogers, recently opened up about him.
This past June, the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was released in theaters. It chronicles the life and career of Fred Rogers – affectionately known as Mr. Rogers – and explores the messages in his well-known TV show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Mrs. Rogers was an integral part of the film, helping to cast a light on what Mr. Rogers the man was really like. The couple met when they were young at Rollins College in Florida, and were able to have fun and be vulnerable with each other.
Their love was built on friendship and she spoke on how that is necessary when you’re married, and it’s the reason they enjoyed a happy union for fifty years. As someone who promoted love and empathy, one of the ways Mr. Rogers showed it was with the number 143.
It may sound odd to our ears, but Mrs. Rogers explained the meaning of the number to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. The number was so important to him that he worked to maintain his body weight at 143 pounds as an adult. Why?
“One was ‘I’, four was ‘l-o-v-e’ – love, three was ‘y-o-u’.”
Awww! She also talked about how much her husband advocated for treating children as people, rather than a target market. That’s why he wound up on PBS. Without the interference of advertisements and other marketing distractions, his show was focused on kids and their parents.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood aired from 1968 to 2001 and remains one of the most popular shows on public television. For many adults across the country, fond childhood memories include sitting in front of the television to hear what Mr. Rogers had to say.
The documentary is still in theaters and is winning rave reviews among critics and moviegoers alike. Generations who grew up watching this man are finding themselves laughing, crying, and remembering what his core message was: love. Love that’s meant for yourself and others!
Peep the video to learn more about Mr. Rogers through the sweet words of his wife. Much like his show, you will probably find out something you never knew before. And if you get a chance, check out the documentary that celebrates his legacy, neighbor.
What memories do you have of growing up and watching Mr. Rogers? Have you watched the documentary? Did Mrs. Rogers get you in the feels while talking about their love story?