Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
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Fred McFeely Rogers died February 27, 2003. As his legacy he left behind a set of images, images of decency, honesty, and tenderness that influenced, delighted, and comforted not only a generation of children but their parents as well. "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" was not the only children's television program of its time-there were many others and some, such as Captain Kangaroo, were quite fine.
- Fred Rogers had something very special in his program, a unique quality that blended teaching with love, and which had nothing to do-in any sense or way-with cheap and vulgar commercialism.
- Bob Keeshan, the actor who played Captain Kangaroo, said of Rogers that he "was the patron saint of children's television".
"I like you just because you're you." This was one of Mr. Rogers' patented lines and it reflects one of the important aims that Rogers' show consistently manifested. That aim was to give children the sense that they are entitled to love. One of the things that the show tried to do, according to the Christian Science Monitor, was to instill in children a sense that it was okay to make mistakes. A great deal of the staging of the show was designed to produce in children a sense of being warmly accepted. Mr. Rogers himself, surely one of the most benign and appealing personages to ever grace the air waves, was masterful in controlling the details of his own behavior-his facial expressions and the modulations of his voice-so as to convey to children that here was an adult who understood and respected them, an adult who seemed to know their feelings very well, and seemed to rejoice in them as people. The details of Mr. Rogers' dress, the zippered sweater and the sneakers, and the ritual of taking off and hanging up his jacket, were designed to project a sense of ordinariness, familiarity, and comfort. These details were part of a self-conscious attempt to create a televised "space" in which everything was designed to promote feelings of safety and security, a space in which a primal longing could be satisfied, a longing for love. Rogers has stated, "way down deep, all of us-adults and children-long to be loved just as we are."