Another childhood icon bids farewell
April 10, 2001 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Another childhood icon bids farewell First it was Bozo, now Mr. Rogers announces he's ending production on his television series, which has been on the air for 33 years. The show will continue in re-runs, of course. Suddenly I feel very grown up and more than a little wistful. (very sorry for the NYT link, maybe someone can post the free mirror link inside)
posted by briank (23 comments total)
I'm glad to hear that the show will still be in reruns, since I have an infant daughter. Some of those medieval puppets are frightening, but you have to hand it to Mr. Rogers for showing truly interesting stuff for kids to see-- musicians, glass blowers, cheese factories, all that stuff.
posted by mblandi at 7:36 AM on April 10, 2001

Wow. Mr. Rogers is ending production?

I was under the impression that production had ended years ago and that what we've been watching since my childhood (15-20 years ago) were re-runs. Just goes to show how "timeless" that show is, I guess.
posted by dogmatic at 8:02 AM on April 10, 2001

Wow, I heard this news months ago. And I wrote about it then, too.
posted by hijinx at 8:12 AM on April 10, 2001

Oh, and it was covered here too.
posted by hijinx at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2001

I would bluster about the Times recycling old news, but today's story is a much longer feature piece than the one from November, which was just sort of a press release.

Sorry for double-posting, but the feature was interesting if you care to read it. Turns out that Mr. Rogers didn't like doing the segments where it was just him putting on his sweater, talking to the camera alone. He wanted to stop production when his musical director died a few years ago.
posted by briank at 9:01 AM on April 10, 2001

I didn't see it as a doublepost, Brian, and it was a really good read.

I got this warm fuzzy feeling again from reading Fred Rogers's quotes - he seems to be one of those rare popular individuals who puts his money where his mouth is, and that's very important when it comes to kids.
posted by hijinx at 9:07 AM on April 10, 2001

He's retiring again?
posted by gtr at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2001

They kept the show looking 'timeless' by not changing the costume fashions and losts of makeup for Mr. Rogers as he aged. I believe I read that this is a conscious decision because they only make a few new shows per year (around 20?), and this allows them to seamlessly rotate the reruns into the mix.

I'm glad the show is staying on, too. I was part of the original audience in the early 1970s and now I have a daughter (nearly 3 y/o) who loves the show as well. I started a habit of watching part of it with her before leaving for work, and I think it's very cool that the show is sort of a cross-generational bond for us.

As an adult watching the show now, it's easy to see why it's stayed around so long. His persona is perfect for a kid's show -- gentle and reassuring, but also honest and straightforward. He's very open about the issues that dominate a kid's world (fears, toilet training, anger, etc.) and he never talks down to his audience.
posted by Dirjy at 10:18 AM on April 10, 2001

I'm glad the show is staying on, too

I'll third that motion. My wife and I are expecting a baby in about a month, and I'm looking forward to just the very thing Dirjy described -- sharing an artifact of my own childhood with her when she is old enough to watch and learn from the show.
posted by briank at 10:30 AM on April 10, 2001

The November 1998 issue of Esquire had a wonderful cover story on Mr. Rogers. It basically showed him to be as gentle and kind as his television persona -- in fact there didn't even seem to be a television persona. It is just him. Like Dirjy said, his success can be attributed to that honesty that children can easily detect.
posted by mgtrott at 10:38 AM on April 10, 2001

I've had the privelege of knowing Fred Rogers for several years, through work with a local children's charity with which he is also involved. There is no "television persona" at all. What you see on TV is what you see in real life, it is 100% him, 100% his way of thinking and behaving toward everyone. He is a truly compassionate, generous and caring person who seems almost beyond human in his capacity to reach out to everyone he encounters. His tireless efforts to make the world a better place for children, especially, but for everyone by extension, are an outstanding example of all that is good in humankind.

I don't have enough positive words to truly describe the man.
posted by Dreama at 10:50 AM on April 10, 2001

Bad news, Brian. Your kids are never going to like anything you like, or they'll like it for some entirely weird reason, or something, anything, as long as it will frustrate your expectations and drive you crazy. And then… eventually you'll just adapt to it, and one day you'll find yourself happily smiling at the Teletubbies sun-baby…while your child is off in the next room trying out Power Rangers moves on his baby sister or using a tangerine as a Digivice or something.

For me, I finally snapped when my kids started to like, nay, love, the stupidest, most annoying, formulaic, insipid TV show of all time, Scooby-Doo. The *sob* Scrappy version. Where did I go wrong?
posted by rodii at 10:50 AM on April 10, 2001

The Scrappy, rodii, I'm amazed you can even mention it in public.....boy, I just pray that never happens to me....

Dreama -- cool.
posted by briank at 10:53 AM on April 10, 2001

rodii -- I feel for you. My daughter betrayed me the same way. Fortunately, her favorite cartoon is Tom and Jerry so that balances it out.

Concerning my previous post -- I guess 'persona' was the wrong word to use. I think 'demeanor' would be more appropriate. I've seen/read enough about Mr. Rogers to be aware that the way he acts on TV is not an 'act.'

In fact, did anyone see when Stuttering John interviewed him for Howard Stern during his book tour a few years ago? John asked his usual brand of questions ("Do you hate Barney?") and Rogers answered every question with utter sincerity ("Why, no, I don't hate Barney.").
posted by Dirjy at 11:30 AM on April 10, 2001

Captain Kangaroo blows Mr. Rogers out of the water.
posted by gluechunk at 11:36 AM on April 10, 2001

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Eddie Murphy's/SNL writers' parodies of Mr. Rogers were actually rip offs of Uncle Floyd's parodies of Mr. Rogers. Thank you.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:28 PM on April 10, 2001

rodii: Just be thankful your kids aren't watching this 80's era Scooby perversion
posted by owillis at 12:56 PM on April 10, 2001
posted by Postroad at 4:47 PM on April 10, 2001

(Postroad, other folks have tried to tell you how to make those links many times. It's just basic good 'citizenship.' Why not try it? Please?)
posted by rodii at 5:16 PM on April 10, 2001

Sorry. I am terrible with all machines etc. Can you reresh me by sending note to and from then on I will get it right or not post again (links)..for which in advance, thanks.
posted by Postroad at 5:25 PM on April 10, 2001

Bad news, Brian. Your kids are never going to like anything you like, or they'll like it for some entirely weird reason, or something, anything, as long as it will frustrate your expectations and drive you crazy.

Hey. I don't remember doing that. (OK, I purposely avoided most of the books my mom has suggested to me since I was about 12. But I listen to lots of old music... )

My parents tried to keep me from watching too much television, but I did watch Mr. Roger's, though, that and Sesame Street, all the time. Both great.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:05 PM on April 10, 2001

According to this 1998 profile focusing on Rogers's religious philosophy as brought to the show, they would produce "three weeks worth of new shows" every year, meticulously planned and scripted to focus on a particular theme.

I wonder if I'm related to the Gregg Hartung in the article, said to be a personal friend of Rogers.

We don't need to worry, though. Mr. Rogers may be gone, but other role models will step up to take his place.
posted by dhartung at 8:20 PM on April 10, 2001

[ looks at pic ]

Ghod. He *did* get old. :-}

Notice how he's flipping us off, too?
posted by baylink at 12:36 PM on April 11, 2001

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