In today’s fractured, volatile media climate, it’s hard to remember a time when there was a national figure as beloved as Fred Rogers. Known to families across the country as the benevolent host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Rogers was a champion for children; their needs, desires and feelings were paramount above all else. On the air for 33 years, the program taught kids how to be kind to each other and love themselves.
Apart from his demeanor and tone, Rogers was famous for the simple cardigans —all hand-knit by his mother—that he would wear on his show. In 2003, Smithsonian wrote about his iconic wardrobe (a red sweater of his sits in the collections of the National Museum of American History). Then-curator Dwight Blocker Bowers said, “Mister Rogers’ style of comfort and warmth, of one-on-one conversation, is conveyed in that sweater ... Can values be taught via mass culture? I think Mister Rogers is proof that they can.”
The documentary from Focus Features is billed as an intimate look at Rogers’ life and those values that he held close, and how he used the show to help children understand the real-life struggles of civil rights or the difficulties they might face at home with issues like divorce.
The movie, titled, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will hit theaters June 8.