Mr. Rogers always explained to the audience what he was doing when he fed his fish. This was in response to a piece of mail from a blind girl who wanted to know when it happened on each episode.
Mr. Rogers had about twenty-five sweaters that he wore over the years of the program. They were all hand-knit by his mother, who, each year, would make one for each of her children, and give it to them as a Christmas present.
Michael Keaton, a Pittsburgh native, was the original operator of Picture Picture, the slide projector.
There are no hands on Daniel Striped Tiger's clock, because in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, we can pretend that it is any time we want.
Guests on the show were often surprised to find that although Rogers was just as gentle and patient in life as he was on television, he was nevertheless a perfectionist who did not allow "shoddy" ad-libbing. He believed that children were thoughtful people who deserved programming as good as anything produced for adults on television.
Although Fred Rogers himself decided to quit making new episodes in 2001, this was never mentioned or hinted at on the program itself. The rationale was that most viewers of the show would grow out of it before they realized that only reruns were playing.
Caroll Spinney, who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Song of the Cloud Forest (1969), agreed to appear in an episode of this show in the 1980s. When Spinney received the script for the show, which required him to remove his costume and discuss the inner-workings of the Big Bird puppet, he refused. He didn't believe in ruining the illusion of Big Bird for the children. Instead, Spinney as Big Bird appeared in a segment of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
The character of Lady Elaine Fairchilde is named after Fred Rogers' adopted sister Elaine Crozier (Elaine Rogers).
Prince Tuesday got his name because he was born in Episode #1117, which aired on Tuesday, May 4, 1970.
Upon hearing him perform in a church Gospel performance, Rogers hired Francois Clemmons for the series. As a result, Clemmons was among the first Black people to appear regularly on a children's TV series. Due to personal distrusts, Clemmons was initially reluctant to portray a police officer. Later, Rogers convinced Clemmons that he could use the role to show the audience of children how to trust and respect police officers.
The fish in Mr. Rogers' tank often include angel fish, swordtails, tetras, and mollies. The fish tank became a permanent part of the television house set in season one, episode #87, which first aired June 18, 1968.
Mr. McFeely's name was originally Mr. McCurdy. Fred Rogers had named him after the man who was the show's benefactor at the time. But The Sears-Roebuck Foundation called and did not like the idea. Thus, Rogers changed the name of the delivery man to Mr. McFeely, naming him after his own grandfather.
Due to attitudes of the time and working on a children's show, Francois Clemmons was forced to keep his homosexuality completely hidden from the general public. While he was threatened with being forced off the show if his true sexual orientation was revealed, Clemons has said that Fred Rogers came to be accepting and tolerant of his homosexuality.
All original songs are composed by Fred Rogers, who was a trained composer. Josie Carey, who had worked with Rogers on The Children's Corner (1955), provided lyrics for a few songs, among them "Then Your Heart is Full of Love" and "I'm Glad I'm The Way I Am."
In the week of Go Stop Go, the numbers on King Friday XIII's and Handyman Negri's fire fighter helmets are 143. 143 was Fred Rogers numerical way of saying "I Love You" by counting the letters in each word. "I (1) Love (4) You (3)". This concept was first demonstrated on the show in the week of "Transformations," #1696-1700, from 1996, in which Daniel Striped Tiger demonstrates this to his friends. Though this is the first time 143 had been explained fully, it had been used subtly in past episodes.
Daniel Striped Tiger is named after WQED's General Manager, Dorothy Daniel, who gave Fred Rogers a tiger puppet, the evening before The Children's Corner (1955) first went on the air. The puppet immediately became part of the show.
Season nine only consisted of five episodes, and it was set up to prepare the viewers for a large mass of reruns; this dated back as far as episode #1001 from 1969. Throughout the week of season nine, episodes #1456-1460, which aired from February 16-20, 1976; Mr. Rogers played back tapes of past episodes and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe that dealt with the topic of then and now. After February 20, 1976, there were no new episodes of the show until August 20, 1979.
Both of Fred Rogers' sons and one of his grandsons appeared on the show with him. Jim Rogers appeared in episode #1202, aired on February 29, 1972. Jim and his son Alex both appeared in "Fathers & Music," episode #1623, aired on August 1, 1990.
In Episode #1101, Mr. Rogers buried one of his dead fish this marks the only time he has ever had to bury a pet on television. Though it was not aired on television after July 31, 1989, it did get released on videocassette.
George A. Romero had originally wanted to cast Betty Aberlin as the lead of his classic masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968), but Fred Rogers refused.
Daniel Striped Tiger, the first resident of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and created in 1954 for The Children's Corner (1955), and King Friday XIII, the first king of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, were the first puppets created and used by Fred Rogers while they appeared on that show. The show also featured Rogers' other puppet creations, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde; they were also on MisteRogers (1961), which was the precursor to this show.
King Friday XIII and Lady Elaine Fairchilde were not related. According to Fred Rogers, her title was simply to designate her as a Lady.
All episodes made from 1979 to 2001 currently air on PBS, except for the week titled "Conflict", episodes #1521-1525. Due to its content on bombs and war, and the recent events in the news pertaining to war and violence; it has not aired on television since the week of April 1-5, 1996.
From its premiere in February 1968 up to 1975, when the show went on hiatus; a total of 590 episodes were produced. When the show returned in 1979, and ran through 2001; a total of 305 episodes were produced. This brought the grand total to 895 original episodes that were produced in the show's 33 year run. PBS decided that the 305 newer episodes were enough to cover the year and so dropped the 590 classic episodes, from 1968-1975, out of circulation. These episodes had had their last airing on PBS throughout 1995.
The walls inside Mr. Rogers' television house were originally painted a bright yellow, revealed when the show went to color in 1969. In episode #1326, the premiere episode of season seven, Mr. Rogers put on overalls and painted the walls blue. The blue colored walls remained in all subsequent shows up until the series' end in 2001.
From 1968-1970, the show's main title was spelled "MisteRogers' Neighborhood." Out of concern for children's spelling skills, the title was changed to "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," starting with Episode #1131, aired on February 15, 1971. However, during the ensuing years, dozens of newspapers would spell it the old way.
Towards the end of the program's run, the show was criticized by conservative media for creating the "everyone gets a trophy" culture by telling children they were special no matter what. Rogers answered this criticism by writing episodes where it was emphasized that children were special and didn't need to do anything to prove their worth.
While on-set and during production, crew members would often pull practical jokes on Fred Rogers; they would later say that he had a great sense of humor and would take such pranks in stride, and at times, turned the table by pranking them back.
The show was parodied or satirized many times throughout its history. When asked about this, Rogers said "some are funny, some are not. I prefer the ones that do it in a manner where it tells me they understand what the show is about." He was known to be a fan of Eddie Murphy's sketch "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood" on Saturday Night Live and even took a photo with Murphy.
Rogers was known for utilizing silence to emphasize a point at different times during the program. He did this without telling cast members or the crew, confusing them at times. When asked about it, Rogers said "silence is one of the greatest gifts and its usage is vastly underrated."
Episodes #1215 and #1508 are the only two occasions in the show's entire run in which Audrey Roth's real name is spoken by Fred Rogers. She is otherwise referred to as "Audrey" or "Audrey Cleans Everything" and, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, "Miss Audrey Paulifficate."
The object on the left side of the castle, with pipes leading out of it, is the castle fountain. It was seen in early 1980s episodes and was unfamiliar with younger viewers. It was first assembled in #1139 from 1971 and used frequently in the mid 1970s episodes. The fountain was dismantled and removed in 1981.
Mr. McFeely (David Newell) had two different Speedy Delivery songs. The first began, "That's what you'll get," and was first used in the opera, "All in the Laundry", shown in episode #1370. This episode aired April 19, 1974. The second song, introduced on episode #1631 on Feburary 25, 1991, had two versions. The first version started, "Is there anything you want?/Is there anything you need?" After three years, the opening lines were changed to "If there's anything you want/If there's anything you need...." This is the version most viewers are familiar with, as Mr. McFeely sang it, with almost every appearance from 1997 to 2001.
King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday were married in Episode #1015, airing February 28, 1969. Mr. Anybody (Don Francks) was the minister.
Episode #1475, "The Windstorm in Bubbleland Opera," is the only episode in the show's history that does not feature the the logo of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in the opening. Instead, about eight seconds into the beginning, the episode title, "Mister Rogers Makes an Opera", appears. It is also the only episode in which Fred Rogers arrives at the television house already in his sweater and does NOT go inside also instead of his usual theme he sings "it's a beautiful day in thid neighborhood a beautiful day for an opera could we make one sure we'll make one".
Mr. McFeely is named after Fred Rogers middle name, McFeely. Fred McFeely was the name of Rogers' grandfather. Mr. McFeely was Roger's middle name and also the last name of his grandfather.
The three buildings directly to the bottom right of the tall red building, in the Neighborhood model, each represent a shop owned by one of Fred Rogers' neighbors. The tall yellow one was Brockett's Bakery, the small green one was Joe Negri's Music Shop, and the tall blue one was Betty Aberlin's little theater. After 1993, the small green building was replaced by a taller brick building. Originally, it represented a shop in Colonial Williamsburg, which Mr. Rogers visited in episode #1675, which was broadcast in February 1994. After that, the model building was modified. Further episodes would use this red brick building to represent either Negri's Music Shop or (on two occasions) a toy and bookstore run by Tony Chiroldes.
Johnny Costa was the musical director, pianist, conductor, and arranger for this show. Following the death of Costa in 1996, his music continued to be used on the show.
The show went to color in 1969, starting with episode #1001, which, despite being the 131st episode, was the first episode to adapt the four-digit numbering system that was used in each additional episode from 1969 up to 2001.
The show went off the air for several years, while Fred Rogers attempted to create programs for adults. Rogers was convinced in returning to do the show after reading about children dressing up like Superman and jumping off the roofs of their houses, resulting in injuries and some deaths; he devoted an entire week to explaining the make-believe nature of superheroes. Ironically, Michael Keaton was one of his early crew members, and he later did an episode where he visited the set of The Incredible Hulk.
Lady Elaine Fairchile became curator of the Museum-Go-Round, succeeding Mrs. Frogg in Episode #1003, which aired February 12, 1969.
Despite playing someone much older, Betty Seamans (then Betsy Nadas), who played Mr. McFeely's wife Betsy, was 24 years old at the time of her character's first appearance.
Rogers didn't announce he was ending the program until the last day of taping, when he told the cast and crew that the show would be ending after that final taping. It was later stated that he kept going back and forth on whether to continue with the program or end it and decided he went as far as he could with the program.
Cast and character debuts: Fred Rogers, Joe Negri, Betty Aberlin, and David Newell (Mr. McFeely) were all in the primary cast prior to the show's debut. Chef Brockett first appeared in episode #8, John Reardon first appeared in episode #45, François Scarborough Clemmons debuted in episode #119, and Robert Trow debuted in episode #129 as Robert Troll and as himself in episode #1066. Bob Dog was introduced in 1970. Yoshi Ito debuted in episode #1154, Elsie Neal debuted in episode #1222, Maggie Stewart debuted in episode #1402, Chuck Aber debuted in episode #1480.
Dr. Bill Platypus's full name is William Duckbill Bagpipe Platypus IV; He and Elsie Jean Platypus first appeared in Episode #1016, which aired March 3, 1969.
As the Neighborhood Of Make Believe puppets were created and performed by Fred Rogers, the individual characteristics of most represented aspects of Rogers own individual traits. For example, King Friday XIII embodied Rogers self admitted need for control and perfectionism; Owl X embodied Rogers own enthusiastic curiosity, and Daniel Striped Tiger embodied his concerns and insecurities from childhood.
In the mid 70s, Rogers was criticized for appealing only to "white, suburban America." To counter this, Rogers hosted a week of shows based in inner city New York with topics given a more urban focus.
Harriet Elizabeth Cow first appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe in Episode #1274, aired throughout 1973. She was named after a cow named Harriet that Mrs. McFeely had in the real neighborhood. That episode, and #1276 from the following week, were adapted into a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood book called "No One Can Ever Take Your Place," which was published in 1988.
"Spoon Mountain" is the only Neighborhood opera in which John Reardon does not sing, nor does it feature any of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe puppets.
The tall red building seen at the beginning and end of the programs represents the office building of NET (National Education Television), which was renamed PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in 1970.
Robert Trow first appeared in episode #129, in the first season, playing Robert Troll, an elf with a mild speech impediment, who lived behind the castle. Robert Trow did not appear as himself until episode #1066, in season three.
The little models of the Neighborhood of Make Believe buildings, often used to begin the Make Believe segments, were built by Robert Trow. He made and gave them to Mr. Rogers, during the first week of episodes, that began the 3rd season in 1970. Each day Mr. Rogers received a new model. Listing these out; he received the clock and the castle in #1066, the tree in No. 1067, the Museum-Go-Round in No. 1068, the Platypus Mound in No. 1069 and Corny's factory in No. 1070. However the Eiffel Tower, which was very rarely used, was not received until No. 1080.
Ana Platypus' full name is Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which is the scientific name for the duck-billed platypus. Rogers composed a song called "Ornithorhynchus anatinus" for Ana and it was sung from episodes #1105 on March 27, 1970 (the day after Ana's birth) to episode #1264 on February 22, 1973.
Marilyn Barnett appeared on the show in episode #1259, which aired as the next to last episode of 1972; she continued to provide exercises for Rogers, mostly in the 1990s (Her last appearance was in Episode #1749, which aired August 26, 1999). Maggie Stewart was also on the old episodes, playing Mayor Maggie, beginning with Episode #1402. Her roles in 1975 were rather short, concluding with the opera "Key to Otherland" in episode #1425, when she played Lorraine Beaver. Stewart did not perform sign-language (her forte) until November 23, 1987, the first show in Alike and Different week. Mayor Maggie appeared at least once in every week of shows released February 1991 to August 2001. In Episode #1517 from Day Care and Night Care week, which aired in April 1983, Stewart sang "Then Your Heart is Full of Love", which had been heard on the show since 1968.
Episode #1184, from Season 4, 1971, was the first time musician Eric Kloss appeared on the show; he was second only to Johnny Costa for the most appearances by any musician; however, Kloss only appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe once.
Bill Barker, the puppeteer behind Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus, was an old friend of Fred Rogers and he first appeared on the show, as himself, in episode #99 that aired since 1968. He would return a year later to perform as Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean.
The name of Audrey Roth's character, Miss Paulifficate, is derived from the children of a friend of Fred Rogers in Canada: Paul, Iffy (a nickname for Elizabeth) and Cate.
Castle telephone operator, Miss Paulifficate, Audrey Roth's character in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, did not appear on-screen until episode #1139 (aired February 25, 1971); this was also the episode, in which, Audrey Roth appeared in the real neighborhood, billing herself as "Audrey Cleans Everything."
King Friday XIII's two wooden birds on a stick are named Troglodytes aedon and Mimus polyglottos (the scientific names, in genus and species, of the ghouse wren and mockingbird). Mimus appeared first in Episode #20, aired in 1968; Episode #63; Episode #1307, aired in 1973; and not until Episode #1591 in May 1988. Troglodytes aedon was introduced in Episode #1285 since 1973.
The week of "Mad Feelings," episodes #1691-1695, from October 16-20, 1995; is the first time, since 1974, that Mr. McFeely appeared in all five programs of a single week.
Fred Rogers never appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as himself. In the first few seasons of the show, he used to interact with the characters. In episode one, he called Edgar Cooke, whom Fred Rogers also voiced, on the telephone can ( we didn't hear Edgar's voice on the other line though). Then, he'd look through a telescope to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. At the end of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment, King Friday XIII says, "I wonder what Mr. Rogers would say about this," and sends a note to him on the trolley. Betty Aberlin played her Neighborhood of Make-Believe character, Lady Aberlin, in the real neighborhood in episode #1013 that ran through 1969. During this episode, she gives Mr. Rogers an invitation to the wedding of King Friday XIII and Queen Sara. Episodes #1001-#1005, which also aired through 1969, Joe Negri played his Neighborhood of Make-Believe character, Handyman Negri, in the real neighborhood. After those series of episodes, from then on, both performers began to play, as themselves, in the real neighborhood.
From 1968 to 1986, a total of thirteen Neighborhood operas were made; they were performed as follows: episode 45, in which Lady Aberlin, as a mother, who hires a babysitter, (John Reardon) to look after her child (Donkey Hodie); episode 84, in which Lady Elaine plays a campsite owner, who objects to some guests (John Reardon and Betty Aberlin); episode 1055, airing since 1969, where people sailed the ocean searching for a lost teddy bear; episode 1125, "The Hawaiian Opera," since 1970, where Reardon and Lady Aberlin play telephone operators; episode 1169, "A Monkey's Uncle: The Organ Grinder Opera," since 1971, where John Reardon, as an organ grinder, Lady Aberlin, as a zoo keeper, and Chef Brockett as a chimpanzee; episode 1245, "The Snow People Opera," from 1972, with an evil witch (Lady Elaine Fairchilde), who helps Lady Aberlin turn François Scarborough Clemmons and Yoshi Ito into snow people (the snow can only be melted with a very special teacher, John Reardon, and a warm pussycat - Henrietta Pussycat and bring them together; a later program; episode 1515, from February 1983, had a story line similar to this one: Lady Elaine Fairchilde, as herself, causes a snow storm in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and they use a very special teacher, Harriet Elizabeth Cow, and a warm pussycat, Henrietta Pussycat, again); episode 1300, "Potato Bugs and Cows," from Friday, 13 April 1973, featuring Lady Aberlin as Priscilla the Cow, Chef Brockett as a groovy potato bug, and Reardon as a farmer; episode 1370, "All in the Laundry," since 1974, in which Reardon is a poor worker in Lady Elaine's Latrobe Laundromat, X the Owl and Yoshi Ito played customers (This was the only opera to include Mr. McFeely (David Newell, giving him the song "A Speedy Delivery" to sing); episode 1425, "Key to Otherland," from 1975, featuring John Reardon, as a swan and Lady Elaine, as a wicked witch who runs a taffy factory; episode 1475, "Windstorm in Bubbleland," from 23 May 1980, featuring John Reardon as a news reporter, Lady Aberlin as a sweater maker, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde as a hummingbird that can stop an impending storm; episode 1505, "Spoon Mountain," from 1982, the only opera not to feature Rogers's puppets, starred Chuck Aber as a prince and Robert Trow as the wicked Knife and Fork who kidnap a baton-twirling kitty; episode 1535, "A Grandad for Daniel," from May 1984, featuring Lady Aberlin as a trolley driver and John Reardon as a long-lost grandfathe; episode #1565, "A Star For Kitty," from 9 May 1986 (the last opera), starred Lady Aberlin, as a cat, who wanted a star, and Daniel Striped Tiger, as a star, who didn't want to leave the sky.
Fred Rogers's primary puppets first used on the show were King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Cornflake S. Pecially, Edgar Cooke, Grandpère, and the Froggs. Lady Elaine Fairchilde first appeared in episode #5; Grandpère first appeared in episode #6; Donkey Hodie first appeared in Episode #16; Sara Saturday debuted in episode #32; Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus debuted in episode #1016; Ana Platypus was born in episode #1104; Prince Tuesday was born in episode #1117. H.J; and Elephant III debuted in episode #1402, the same episode in which Maggie Stewart first appeared. Harriet Elizabeth Cow first appeared during the week of episodes #1296-1300, the week of the Potato Opera. Prince Tuesday and Ana Platypus grew to young children during the week of episodes #1461-1465.
Chuck Aber did not appear on the show, in person, until "Divorce Part 5," episode #1480. During the 1970s, Mr. Aber performed behind-the-scenes puppetry as the voice of H.J. Elephant III.
The Frogg Family were residents of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe until the start of the 1969 season, #1001, in which Mrs. Frogg is offered a position at the zoo in Westwood. Mrs. Frogg also ran the Museum-Go-Round before Lady Elaine Fairchilde. Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus moved to the neighborhood several weeks after the Frogg family left.
In episode #1689, "Everybody's Special Part 4," Fred Rogers said he had never made a puppet out of a spoon before. Actually, he did. Back in episode #1070, from 1969; he made a Cornflake S. Pecially puppet out of a wooden spoon.
The distance, between the Neighborhood of Make Believe and Westwood, changed during the run of the series. In earlier episodes, it was at least a day's travel between the lands; but in later shows, especially when Mayor Maggie and Charles R. Aber became regular characters, the lands were only a mile or two apart.
Although he often sang on the series, notably his signature "Speedy Delivery to you"; David Newell admitted that, he felt, he could never properly sing or carry a tune.
The red sweater worn by Lady Elaine was knitted by herself, as revealed in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: 1472: Mr. Rogers Makes an Opera (1980).
Closed-captioned broadcasts of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood began in 1988 (1989 for some shows), starting with all post-1979 shows up to that time, as well as a few shows from 1971-1976 that survived on PBS stations back then. Originally performed by the National Captioning Institute, closed captioning of later shows were then taken over by The Caption Center at WGBH Educational Foundation, starting with #1671, which first aired in February 1994.
For most of the series, the only lands in the Make Believe world were the Neighborhood of Make Believe, Westwood and Someplace Else. Two others were added in: Southwood was introduced in 1983, during the week of "Conflict", and Northwood in the 1984 week of "Food."
Despite being a recurring segment only thirteen episodes do not feature the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
Episodes #1191 and #1281 are the only episodes where Mr Rogers does not wear his trademark sweater.