Rogers, Fred McFeely (1928-)
Rogers, Fred McFeely (1928-)
American television producer of educational television programs for children.
Fred Rogers is best known as the quiet host of a popular and long-running children's public television program "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He graduated from Rollins College with a degree in music composition in 1952. Rogers first saw television in the 1950s while a college student and disapproved of the slapstick aimed at children. He decided to pursue a career in this field to provide higher quality programming for children's television.
After working for the National Broadcasting Company, Rogers was invited to work on a live children's program for National Education Television. Rogers co-produced, wrote, composed, and functioned as puppeteer and organist for the "Children's Corner" from 1953-62. Rogers produced and hosted "Misterogers" for the Canadian Broadcasting Company from 1962-64, and was executive producer and host of the popular "Misterrogers' Neighborhood" (later, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood") for the Public Broadcasting Company from 1965-75. Attending class during lunch hours and evenings, Rogers was ordained a Presbyterian minister with a charge to serve families and children through the mass media. He graduated magna cum laude from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1962. Later he pursued graduate work in child development at the University of Pittsburgh from 1964-67.
Rogers continually sought to convey a message of affirmation to young children. He credits his grandfather, Fred Brooks McFeely, with the signature quotation from his television show, "I like you, just the way you are." He arranges his program to combine reality and fantasy, providing educational excursions to various places in the neighborhood as well as visits to the puppets that inhabit "Make Believe" and act out children's issues including jealousies, fears, and everyday moral dilemmas.
In addition to his work in television, Rogers has written a number of children's books including a First Experience series in which Rogers addresses such topics as the New Baby, Moving, Fighting, Going to the Doctor, Going to Daycare, and Going to the Potty. His books address common childhood fears and anxieties with respect and reassurance, reflecting the tone and message of his television show. Rogers has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his contributions to children's television.
Collins, Mark, and Margaret Mary Kimmel, eds. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Children, Television, and Fred Rogers. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996.
DiFranco, JoAnn, and Anthony DiFranco. Mister Rogers: Good Neighbor to America's Children. Minneapolis, MN: Dillon Press, 1983.
Rogers, Fred. Mr. Rogers Talks with Parents. Berkley, 1985.
Rogers, Fred, and B. Head. The Mister Roger's Playbook: Insights and Activities for Parents and Children. Berkley, 1986.
Rogers, Fred. You Are Special: Words of Wisdom from America's Most Beloved Neighbor. New York: Viking, 1994.
—Doreen Arcus, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts Lowell