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Mister Rogers Neighborhood

Mister Rogers Neighborhood: Children Television And Fred Rogers

Mark Collins
Margaret Mary Kimmel
Foreword by Bob Garfield
Afterword by Marian Wright Edelman
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Mister Rogers Neighborhood
    Book Description:

    Foreword by Bob Garfield. Afterword by Marian Wright EdelmanBorn in 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Fred Rogers began his television career in 1951 at NBC. In 1954, he became program director for the newly founded WQED-TV in Pittsburgh, the first community-supported television station in the United States. From 1954 to 1961, Rogers and Josie Carey produced and performed in WQED's The Children's Corner, which became part of the the Saturday morning lineup on NBC in 1955 and 1956.It was after Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963, with a special charge of serving children and their families through television, that he developed what became the award-winning PBS seriesMister Rogers' Neighborhood.Fred Rogers began his television career in 1951 at NBC, and in 1954, he became program director for the newly founded WQED-TV in Pittsburgh, the first community-supported television station in the United States. From 1954 to 1961, Rogers and Josie Carey produced and performed in WQED'sThe Children's Corner, which became part of the the Saturday morning lineup on NBC in 1955 and 1956. It was after Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963, with a special charge of serving children and their families through television, that he developed what became the award-winning PBS seriesMister Rogers' Neighborhood.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-8008-7
    Subjects: Education, Performing Arts, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. FOREWORD: Bom Again in Rogers
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Bob Garfield

    My recovery began, ironically enough, as our whole family watched TV — right afterThe Ren and Stimpy Show,and it was as if a giant, leaded, dental X-ray apron had been peeled off my body. Suddenly I was unburdened. Life suddenly seemed more orderly and bearable. It was easier to walk downstairs to face the morning. Even food tasted better.

    Day by day, over the years, the pressure had built — and not only in me. My wife, too, was full of conflicting emotions: pity, distrust, frustration, and plain incredulity that her husband could be such a man. We’d tried to...

    (pp. xvii-1)
    Mark Collins and Margaret Mary Kimmel
  3. Fred Rogers and the Significance of Story
    (pp. 3-13)
    George Gerbner

    There is a story about a mother who said to her child, “I wish you would change your behavior.” The child said, “That’s all right, Mother; Mister Rogers loves me as I am.”

    Forty years in children’s television — with an approach that is so different from so many other programs — is an event of historic significance. Forty years as a gentle provocateur and a counterpoint clearly is more than a story of quick success. If you are trendy, you will last as long as a trend does. If you are going along with convention you will quickly get used up...

  4. “What Is Essential Is Invisible to the Eye”
    (pp. 15-35)
    Jeanne Marie Laskas

    Something you said a little while ago triggered something that I think is very important. And that is the whole business of, when you’re with somebody, trying to be present in a moment. I think there are many people who bring a whole lot of baggage from their past and a whole lot of anxiety about the future to the present moment.

    What’s so great is that people can be in relationship with each other for the now. If we can somehow rid ourselves of illusions. The illusion that we are greater or lesser than we are. The illusion that...

  5. The Myth, the Man, the Legend
    (pp. 37-49)
    David Bianculli

    Fred Rogers and I got started in children’s television at the same place, and about the same time.

    His career as a children’s TV personality began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1954, as puppeteer, musician, producer, and cocreator ofThe Children’s Corner,a local TV show on WQED. I had begun in Pittsburgh a year earlier — as a child.

    More specifically, as a child of television.

    So when Rogers and his partner, Josie Carey, first served up their programs, I was in the right place at the right time to be one of their young viewers. Along withThe Mickey Mouse...

  6. The Reality of Make-Believe
    (pp. 51-65)
    Nancy E. Curry

    The importance of pretend play and reality is at the heart of Fred Rogers’ work. Daily he invites children to enter his play space, and together they confront both the inner reality of imagination and the shared reality of the world that Winnicott so poetically describes. As a classmate, colleague, and observer of Fred Rogers, I have been “Fred-watching” for nearly three decades. In that time, I have come to understand why his blend of reality and fantasy is so important in a child’s development and how his program aids in the vital developmental task of resolving subjective and objective...

  7. Fred’s Shoes: The Meaning of Transitions in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
    (pp. 67-77)
    Roderick Townley

    In the Fauvist paintings of Maurice de Vlaminck, there is always a pathway leading the eye safely through the fields and foliage of his color-splashed world. An analogous path can be found in the world Fred Rogers creates onMister Rogers’ Neighborhood,the longest-running program on public television. There’s always a way for the child to get smoothly from one part of the program to the next.

    Does the comparison with de Vlaminck seem far-fetched? Many people don’t associate children’s television (oranytelevision) with “art.” But no one who seriously examines the work Fred Rogers has done over three...

  8. Musical Notes: An Interview with Yo-Yo Ma
    (pp. 79-87)
    Eugenia Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma

    Zukerman: Yo-Yo, do you remember the first time you met Fred Rogers?

    Ma: The first time I met him I was totally surprised. I wasn’t comfortable when he sat next to me — about three inches away from my face — and smiled and said, “I’m so happy you’re here.” I started sweating. Then I realized that that’s what our kids do to us. You know — “Daddy I love you so much,” or “I’m so glad you’re my daddy.” Kids of a certain age really have no barriers and are not socialized to have certain ... they don’t have to be “cool,”...

  9. With an Open Hand: Puppetry on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
    (pp. 89-99)
    Susan Linn

    At the hopeful and determined age of twenty, I took a plane from Boston to Pittsburgh to meet Fred Rogers. The year was 1968.Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodhad been on public television for nearly one year.

    I was, then, a fledgling performer with a penchant for puppetry and a growing interest in child psychology.Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodwas truly a phenomenon: a television show that embodied the developmental and psychological theories that fascinated me. Played out before my eyes were issues of self-esteem, body integrity, autonomy, and a full range of childhood preoccupations. I knew I had to meet him....

  10. The Theology of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
    (pp. 101-121)
    William Guy

    In referring to the theology ofMister Rogers’ Neighborhood,I do not mean theology as some system where assertions or categories about reality (whatever reality is) are amassed. However impressive such systems may be as intellectual exercises, too many of them seem to me to suffer from a defect of their “projections.” They locate the divine dimension above or apart from the dimension of created things — “out there” somewhere in a great beyond. I tend to agree with theologian John A. T. Robinson that the divine dimension “may have to be witnessed to much more indirectly, obliquely, parabolically, brokenly —in...

  11. Mister Rogers: Keeper of the Dream
    (pp. 123-143)
    Paula Lawrence Wehmiller

    It is August 28, 1963, a hot, humid summer day between high school graduation and my first year of college. I kneel on the grass in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and move my hand through the dark, still water of the Reflecting Pool. I am at once alone and a part of something much bigger than this moment in time can gather. Two hundred fifty thousand people have journeyed here by train and bus, by plane, in cars, some on foot from the D.C. neighborhoods, none of us knowing — or even imagining, I suspect —what...

  12. Make-Believe, Truth, and Freedom: Television in the Public Interest
    (pp. 145-161)
    Lynette Friedrich Cofer

    Children’s television is no longer the “vast wasteland” of 1961, but a “waste site, strewn with war toys, insipid cartoons and oversweetened cereals.”¹ We seem unable to halt a technological and commercial expansion that has invaded the lives of children and families and now threatens our free press. This essay explores how we have moved from past to present in our experience with television, the failure of social science research to influence rational social policy, the ascendance of market choices over the Madisonian view of free speech and of corporate privilege over responsibilities in media ownership, and the diminution of...

  13. Mister Rogers Speaks to Parents
    (pp. 163-173)
    Ellen Galinsky

    On Tuesday, June 4, 1968, following his victory speech in the California Democratic primary for president, Robert Kennedy was mortally wounded by a dissident Jordanian named Sirhan Sirhan. For the next twenty-five hours, the nation — already reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. just two months before — kept a vigil by their television sets. Early on Thursday morning, June 6, Robert Kennedy died.

    Hedda Sharapan, one of the creative team that puts togetherMister Rogers’ Neighborhood,recalls the day. “Fred came into the studio on Thursday morning. He’d been up all night. He remembered a conversation he had...

  14. Other Viewers, Other Rooms
    (pp. 175-181)
    Mary Rawson

    Like most television programs,Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodkeeps track of its demographics to see who’s watching every day. The program is intended for a preschool audience of three- to five-year olds, with some spillover into the two- to eight-year-old range. Approximately eight million households — mostly little kids, often watching with their parents — tune in every week.

    One way to track viewership is by reading the mail — the hundreds of letters that come into the program every month. Most of it, of course, is from young viewers. But the show also has a large group of regular viewers who are anything...

  15. A Neighborhood with Forest and Trees Allies, Coalitions, Kids, and Mister Rogers
    (pp. 183-194)
    Mark Shelton

    In the vast sea of television broadcasting, out there among the horse latitudes of television research,Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodis taken as a sort of fixed point, a North Star, from which more esoteric or subtle investigations begin. Fred Rogers is seen as an ally of children and his program a place of refuge.

    This was not always the case, particularly in the terra incognita that existed before Huston-Stein, Friedrich-Cofer, and others did their seminal work in the 1970s. (These researchers and others made the audacious suggestion that, despite contrary claims of network executives, repeated viewing of violent television programs...

  16. A Very Special Neighborhood: A Photo Essay
    (pp. 195-214)
    Lynn Johnson

    The last essay in this collection belongs to Fred Rogers himself. In these photos you see the life of a person committed to children and families, both ours and his. Between the first shot of the young Rogers, gesturing with open arms to welcome an unseen audience, to the last, a solitary thoughtful, mature Rogers, comes forty years of experience and caring.

    Many of the writers in this volume have commented on the consistency of Rogers’ work, his reliance on unity of theme. Such constancy may have been drawn from his earliest experiences with his family, especially his maternal grandfather,...

  17. AFTERWORD: A Nation of Neighborhoods
    (pp. 215-226)
    Marian Wright Edelman

    The United States has changed enormously since that day in the late 1960s when Fred Rogers first walked into his television “living room,” exchanged his jacket and street shoes for a sweater and tennis shoes, and invited America’s children to be his neighbors. In the past three decades, economic and social tidal waves have battered our families, our neighborhoods, and our schools, and have altered our demographics and our workplaces. Now, as Fred Rogers’ first young neighbors become parents themselves, the stresses and challenges of child-rearing have never been greater. They are daunting enough for well-educated and economically comfortable families....