Fred Rogers was known for inspiring children — and adults — with his comforting words of wisdom as the host of the TV show Mister Rogers' neighbourhood. His calming nature and demure sense of style (who could forget his cosy cardigans and those comfy sneakers?) made everyone feel at ease, so it makes sense that his legacy would still live on years after his death.
Recently, a biopic about his life, titled You Are My Friend, was announced with Tom Hanks set to play the late, soft-spoken star to the delight of fans everywhere. Also, the trailer for the upcoming documentary Won't You Be My neighbour? was released and had everyone crying into their own cardigans at the sight of Fred once again. With these adaptations of Fred's life emerging as of lately, we rounded up 10 facts about him that will put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Check them out here.
- Fred was born in Latrobe, PA. His parents, James and Nancy, adopted a 6-month-old baby girl and named her Elaine when he was 11 years old.
- He began playing the piano at 5 years old. Fred took an interest in the instrument after watching his mother play as a kid.
- He got his B.A. in music composition at Rollins College. It was there that Fred met his future wife, Joanne Byrd. They tied the knot on June 9, 1952, and were married for 51 years until his death in 2003.
- He is survived by his two sons, James and John. In 1959, Fred welcomed his first son, James, and in 1961, he welcomed his second son, John.
- He was an ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church. In 1962, Fred graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
- He was a noted vegetarian. In his lifetime, Fred would often say, "I don't want to eat anything that has a mother."
- He was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys. His moving speech was remembered for making people in the audience cry in under 10 seconds.
- In 1954, he worked as a puppeteer on a local children's show in Pittsburgh. The series, titled The Children's Corner, eventually led to a 15-minute segment, titled Misterogers, which would later be known as the beloved PBS show Mister Rogers' neighbourhood.
- The clothes he wore on Mister Rogers' neighbourhood had a personal connection to his family. In an interview with Emmy TV, Fred revealed all the sweaters he wore were knitted by his mother.
- George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Fred was given the prestigious honour for his contributions to children's education. "Fred Rogers has proven that television can soothe the soul and nurture the spirit and teach the very young," Bush said at the time.