Five of Our Favorite Mister Rogers Moments
We’ve compiled five clips that best illustrate his extraordinary character. Not surprisingly, his message remains more relevant than ever.
Death of the Goldfish
Mister Rogers’ ability to talk straight to children about complicated topics like war and divorce is one of the reasons his show is so highly revered –– and what made this episode so special.
This clip begins with Mister Rogers going to his backyard to bury a pet fish. He tells the audience about the death of his childhood dog Mitzi and the complicated feelings he experienced as a boy who didn’t fully understand the meaning of death.
Fred Rogers Appeals to Congress for Funding of Public Broadcasting
On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications to ask for additional funding for the budding public broadcast system.
The contrast between the compassionate Mister Rogers and an initially skeptical and abrasive senator is part of what makes this moment so interesting. Although the senator was unfamiliar with Rogers and his program, he’s completely sold by the end of Roger’s pitch.
Violence and Shootings
Eerily poignant in today’s day and age, Mister Rogers asks school children about a topic that many parents are hesitant to mention in front of their kids: shootings.
When Rogers asks the students how they feel hearing about murders on television, they give some surprisingly insightful thoughts on the perpetrators of these horrible crimes.
But for the children and adults who are disheartened by what they see on television, Rogers offers some advice given to him by his mother:
“‘Always look for the people who are helping,’ she’d tell us. ‘You’ll always find people who are helping.’”
TV Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech
In 1999, Fred Rogers was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Taking part in the introduction ceremony was Jeffrey Erlanger, best known for appearing on “Mister Rogers’’ Neighborhood” as a child to explain why he used an electric wheelchair.
Mister Rogers rushed to meet his friend in a touching moment that eclipses what is still an unforgettable acceptance speech.
Many Ways to Say I Love You
In this visually poetic scene, Mister Rogers invites Officer Clemmons to dip his feet in the pool with him and sing, “Many Ways to Say I Love You.” At a time when there were only a handful of African American recurring characters on children’s TV shows, Rogers challenged racial stereotypes by inviting Francois Clemmons to play a police officer on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
The metaphor of Clemmons sharing the water with Rogers isn’t incidental either, according to Clemmons. He says the message was completely intentional.
“To say that he didn’t know what he was doing, or that he accidently stumbled into integration, or talking about racism or sexism, that’s not Mr. Rogers,” Clemmons said. “It was well-planned and well thought-out and I think it was very impactful.”
Mister Rogers’ legacy continues through the Fred Rogers Company, which produces “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on PBS Kids, and offers online learning resources for parents.