Today’s media climate is broken and volatile. It’s hard to remember a time when there was a national figure as beloved as Fred Rogers. He was known to families across the country as a benevolent TV host. He hosted “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Rogers was a champion for children. He knew their needs and their desires. He knew their feelings were paramount above all else. He was on the air for 33 years. His 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 that he would wear on his show. These were all hand-knit by his mother. 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 a close look at Rogers’ life. It also looks at the values that he held close. He used the show to help children understand the real-life struggles of civil rights. He helped them understand the difficulties they might face at home with issues like divorce.
The movie is called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It will hit theaters June 8.