“I Like You Just the Way You Are.”
This simple, yet impactful, quote comes from Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. This is how he would close each episode, ensuring children to take delight in their own individuality. One of the reasons this beloved children’s sitcom lasted so long and continues to influence young children today is the truths that Fred Rogers portrayed to his audience. His gentle, charming charisma spoke to each child as if he or she were the only one on the planet.
Premiering in 1968, this marks the 50th anniversary of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, while Fred Rogers would have celebrated his 90th birthday this past March. Not only being the host of the sitcom, Rogers worked as the show’s producer, head puppeteer, script and song writer in order to transform a children sitcom with simple ideas into a magical masterpiece that will stick with children as they continue to breach the stages of adulthood. The iconic sweaters, shoe changing, and theme song will forever live in the memories of so many.
This sitcom earned Rogers numerous awards, including four daytime Emmys, a Lifetime Achievement award in 1997, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. In 1999, Rogers was inaugurated into the Television Hall of Fame. Rogers went on to say, “Those of us in broadcasting have a special calling to give whatever we feel is the most nourishing that we can for our audience. We are servants of those who watch and listen.”
Many were saddened when Rogers passed away from stomach cancer in February 27, 2003, but his legacy still proves to be immortal.
In January of 2018, it was announced that a new film will be premiering based on Fred Rogers called You Are My Friend. It was also announced that Tom Hanks, America’s dad, according to Vanity Fair, will take on the challenge of bringing Fred Rogers back to life through his acting. Hanks, who inspired so many through films such as Big, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Saving Mr. Banks has big shoes to fill as he takes on the arduous task of renovating himself into the soft-spoken, tender-hearted neighbor we had all come to know and love.
The film will be directed by Marielle Heller, who said, “The script knocked me out with its message of kindness and exploration of the human spirit. As a mother, I am so inspired by the teaching of Fred Rogers, and as a human I am in awe of his life’s works.” Hopefully this new film will help expose new faces to the type of man Rogers was and the life he lived.
Who knew a kind and uplifting word could go such a long way? Let us keep in mind the life of meekness Mr. Rogers left behind and emulate this manner of love when passing our everyday neighbor during the mundane, yet majestic, moments in our neighborhoods. Who knows what could come out of it?
Below is the theme song to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and the closing scene of the first episode.