- He made thieves think twice.
Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When he filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio, and media outlet around town.
Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”
- He saved both public television and the VCR.
Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut public television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Frank Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million.
Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR’s to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.
- He could make a subway car full of strangers sing.
Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. The car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn’t be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” The result made Rogers smile wide.
- He got into TV because he hated TV.
The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other’s faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn’t be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won’t fit!), to divorce and war.
- He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.
- The sweaters.
Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.