After a little more than a decade working in children’s television, Fred’s reputation as a champion of high standards – for children’s programming and for television in general – was well established. It was highlighted by his now-famous testimony before Congress in 1969, in which he brought flinty politicians and the rest of the audience to tears with his simple, genuine, and powerful plea for better television. The result was a sharp jump in federal funding for PBS.
In the early 1960s, Fred was briefly enticed to a public television job for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, where he became an on-air performer for the first time. His work there, on Misterogers, helped shape and develop the concept and style of his later program for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the U.S.
His landmark program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood began in 1968. It was originally black-and-white and was the first children’s educational program on PBS.
Fred was an only child. Through playing and pretending, he would play with puppets to deal with his own feelings and struggles. His grandfather, Mr. McFeely had a huge impact on his life. He told little Freddy that he liked him exactly the way he was. And Fred has spent more than thirty years, telling all of us how special we are.
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood first debuted in 1967 and over more than forty years on public television defined television at its finest. As TV Guide said: “Television is all about coveting, but Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is about appreciating what you already have, about caring for others and seeing the best in them.”
Over the years, research confirmed that watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood helped young children develop the emotional and social skills needed for learning in and out of school.
Mister Rogers now has an asteroid named in his honor. "Misterrogers," formerly known as No. 26858, honors Fred Rogers, creator and host of public television's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Rogers died Feb. 27 at age 74.
The [Carnegie] science center worked with Family Communications Inc., the production company Rogers founded, to produce a planetarium show for preschoolers called "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," which plays at 15 planetariums across the country. "Misterrogers" can be found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is about 218 million miles from the sun. It was discovered in 1993 by E.F. Helin at the Palomar Observatory in California.
"The world is not always a kind place," he said. "That's something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it's something they really need our help to understand." He believed that even the worst fears had to be "manageable and mentionable," one way or another, and because of this he did not shy away from topics like war, death, poverty and disability.
For all its reassuring familiarity, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was a revolutionary idea at the outset and it remained a thing apart through all its decades on television. Others would also entertain the young or give them a leg up on their studies. But it was Fred Rogers, the composer, Protestant minister and student of behavior who ventured to deal head-on with the emotional life of children.