The first – and easiest – thing that you probably didn’t know about Mr. Rogers is that today is his birthday. 84 years ago today, Fred Rogers was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania – just two years and change before Arnold Palmer, noted golf enthusiast and soft drink game-changer would be born in the same town. But there is much, much more to it than that.
First, Fred Rogers’ middle name was (and presumably still is) McFeely. There are probably a handful of jokes that one could make about that, but we’ll pass. However, if we ever discover that Ronald McDonald’s middle name is McFeely, well, then we have ourselves something.
Second, Mister Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister. Many people probably know this, but what they don’t know is that he graduated with a degree in music composition from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Winter Park is definitely the most old person-town name I’ve ever heard.
Third, Rogers was red-green colorblind. I think this means that he thought the sweaters he wore all the time were green and not red, but I’m not positive that’s how it works.
Fourth, Rogers lived in New York City, but had a summer home on Nantucket. Which isn’t quite Winter Park, but it’s close.
Fifth, Rogers was an avid swimmer. He swam every morning. He was also a vegetarian and didn’t smoke or drink. Which all sounds awfully boring to me.
Sixth, Mr. Rogers’ first television gig was with NBC. That’s right, he went from NBC to PBS. Well, not directly – there was a pit stop at WQED public television in Pittsburgh and the CBC in Toronto, where he first developed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but that show didn’t become distributed in the United States until five years later, in 1968. PBS picked it up in 1969, and it ran for 895 episodes, through August of 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.
Seventh, Mr. Rogers red sweater is on display at the Smithsonian.
Finally, Mr. Rogers received forty honorary degrees during his career.
all facts via Wikipedia