1. He basically saved public television. In 1969 the government wanted to cut public television funds. Mister Rogers then went to Washington where he gave an amazing merely six minute speech. By the end of the speech not only did he charm the hostile Senators, he got them to double the budget they would have initially cut down. The whole thing can be found on youtube, a video called “Mister Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate.”
2. “Certain fundamentalist preachers hated him because, apparently not getting the “kindest man who ever lived” memo, they would ask him to denounce homosexuals. Mr. Rogers’s response? He’d pat the target on the shoulder and say, “God loves you just as you are.” Rogers even belonged to a “More Light” congregation in Pittsburgh, a part of the Presbyterian Church dedicated to welcoming LGBT persons to full participation in the church.”
3. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers 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.”
4. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—”the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
5. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English. What most people don’t know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she’d always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
6. Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that 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.
7. Mister Rogers would narrate himself feeding the fish each episode with, ‘I’m feeding the fish,’ because of a letter he received from a young blind girl who was worried the fish were hungry,” she wrote. “Love you, Mister Rogers.”
Rogers included the text of the girl’s letter in his book, “Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?” published in 1996.
As he noted in the book (emphasis added):
One girl and her family wrote to tell us there was a special reason why she wanted me to talk about feeding the fish each day.
Dear Mister Rogers,
Please say when you are feeding your fish, because I worry about them. I can’t see if you are feeding them, so please say you are feeding them out loud.
Katie, age 5 (Father’s note: Katie is blind, and she does cry if you don’t say that you have fed the fish.)