Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood star is celebrated with a Google Doodle

It’s a beautiful day on the Internet.

Google is marking the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s WQED on September 21, 1967. The show made the move to PBS in February 1968, allowing children around the world to delight in the wholesome messages, music and wonder of the show.

When clicked on, the doodle plays a stop-motion animated video that opens with a version of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood opening. An animated version of the show’s late star, Fred Rodgers, can be seen strolling through the neighbourhood singing Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

The Google Doodle plays a stop-motion animated video that opens with a version of the Mister Rogers Neighborhood opening

The Google doodle was created by Fred Rogers Productions in collaboration with the Fred Rogers Center and BixPix Entertainment.

In a statement, Hedda Sharapan of Fred Rogers Productions said: ‘The Doodle aims to be a reminder of the nurturing, caring, and whimsy that made the snow feel like a “television visit” between Mister Rogers and his young viewers.

‘Everyone was welcome in this Neighborhood.’

Who was Mister Rogers?

Fred Rogers — better known as Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — was a television personality. He was the creator, composer, producer, head writer and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which started locally on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s WQED and later moved to PBS.

The show ran from 1967 to 2000, though reruns continue to air on PBS.

In addition to his work on television, Fred was an advocate for various causes. He famously gave testimony before a United States Senate committee seeking government funding for children’s television.

For his efforts on and off TV, Fred was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, 40 honorary degrees and a Peabody Award. He has also been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired its first episode on WQED on September 1967. The show was nationally syndicated via PBS in 1968 and ran until 2000, with reruns continuing to air afterward.

The show was popular among children and parents. Each episode included songs, lessons in morality and characters kids grew to know and love.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood opened the same week after week: Mister Rogers would return home singing Won’t You Be My Neighbor? While changing into sneakers and his signature cardigan sweater.

In a 2014 post on The Fred Rogers Company’s site, Hedda Sharapan wrote: ‘He changed into his sweater, sang the same welcoming song and sat on the bench to change his sneakers.

‘This predictability offered a sense of security. Through your rituals and routines, you’re offering that to children, too.’

Speaking with EmmyTVLegends.org in 1999, Fred revealed that his mother knitted his zipper sweaters he’d wear during the show.

‘My mother, for as long as I could remember, made at least one sweater every month,’ he recalled.

‘She would give us each a hand-knit sweater every Christmas. Until she died those zipper sweaters that I wore on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother.’

Many of the sweaters — as well as a pair of Fred’s iconic sneakers — were donated to charity events and in one case the Smithsonian.

Fred signed off Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with one final message, in which he said he was ‘just so proud’ of all his long-time viewers.

‘I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead, but I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are,’ he said.

‘And what’s more I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.’

Mister Rogers’ death

Fred Rogers was diagnosed with stomach cancer in December 2002. He underwent surgery in January 2003 and died in February of that year.

According to the New York Times, he died at his home. Family spokesman David Newell, who played Mr McFeely on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, confirmed the details of Fred’s death.

Mister Rogers movie

In 2018, a documentary called Won’t You Be My Neighbor was released. The documentary focused on the life and career of Fred Rogers.

It featured clips from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, videos of Fred off the set, interviews with the showrunner and commentary from those who knew him and were touched by him.

The film is available on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Red, in the Google Play Store and On Demand.

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