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Facts About Mr. Rogers

14 Moving Facts About Mr. Rogers

You know Mr. Rogers to have been the host of one of the most beloved children's shows of all time. There's so much more to be said, however, about the man who changed lives through earnestness and profound kindness. Ahead, we've rounded up 14 intriguing facts about Fred Rogers you may not have known. (And while you're at it, be sure to check out his beautiful way with words.)

  1. His little sister was adopted. According to his bio, Fred Rogers was an only child until age 11, when his parents adopted a baby girl.
  2. He earned a degree in music composition after dropping out of an Ivy League school. He initially began his college career at Dartmouth, but transferred to a college in Florida after one year. He graduated in 1951 magna cum laude.
  3. After becoming a minister, the Church asked him to serve children through television. In the early '60s, Mr. Rogers earned his divinity degree and was ordained into the Presbyterian Church.
  4. He was color-blind. Fred was red-green color-blind and wasn't able to see the color blue. Speculative, but maybe that's why his demeanor was ceaselessly optimistic and hopeful — he couldn't see the color of sadness.
  5. His family's first TV set sparked his interest in the medium. When he was in college, Mr. Rogers went home to find a new TV set, where people were throwing pies at each other onscreen. Somewhat appalled, he vowed to use television "for the broadcasting of grace through the land."
  6. He took a nap every single afternoon. And he woke up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to study, read, write, and pray.
  7. He weighed exactly 143 .lbs for the last 35 or so years of his life . . . for one special reason. Mr. Rogers didn't drink, smoke, or eat meat, and he swam every morning to keep his weight consistently at 143 .lbs. He eventually found beauty in the number. He told Esquire in the late '90s, "The number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three. 'I love you.' Isn't that wonderful?"
  8. His testimony in court paved the way for Netflix. According to Rollins College (Fred's alma mater!), Universal Studios opened up a case against Sony Corporation in the '80s, claiming television viewers should not be able to record shows at home. Rogers testified on behalf of Sony, because he wanted everyone to be "more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way." The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sony, and this saved the VCR as well as paved the way for streaming services such as Netflix.
  9. His show is one of the longest-lasting on TV. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ran from 1968 to 2001.
  10. He was difficult to interview. Mr. Rogers always found a way to turn the questions back to the reporters, because he was curious about their life stories. He would also take pictures of the interviewers, and compile albums for them at the end of their time together, like the two were old friends.
  11. He wrote 200 songs on his show. Including the main theme, of course.
  12. He owned about two dozen sweaters for his program. His trademark zippered sweaters were all made by his mother.
  13. He always wore sneakers because they made the least amount of noise. Especially when he was moving around on set.
  14. He spoke at the perfect pace. Mr. Rogers spoke 124 words per minute — the ideal pace for children ages 3 to 5 to process, which may have contributed to the tremendous popularity of his series.

Image Source: Everett Collection
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