We all know Mr. Rogers for his sweaters, but we don't know that his mother hand knit all of the sweaters he wore on the show as her way of saying, “I love you.” While his sweaters hung in his closet, one of his sweaters now hangs in the Smithsonian.
Mr. Rogers named characters after his loved ones. The mailman, Mr. McFeely, was named after — you guessed it — his grandfather Fred McFeely. Although, Mr. Rogers later admitted he probably shouldn't have given him that name because of all of the dirty jokes that could be made.
Even though his legacy is in TV, Mr. Rogers got into the medium because he hated it. He's quoted as saying, “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.”
Mr. Rogers was a very straitlaced man. He never smoke or drank, and he was a vegetarian because he refused to eat anything that had a mother. He was married to the same woman until his death and was even an ordained Presbyterian minister. It seems as if the only scandalous thing that Mr. Rogers ever did was swim in the buff every morning at various clubs that allowed skinny dipping.
You weren't the only one who loved Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Koko the gorilla was a huge Mr. Rogers fan. When the sign-language speaking gorilla met Mr. Rogers, she immediately embraced him, then proceed to take off his shoes — just like she saw him do on TV. Honestly, we can't say we wouldn't have done that too!
Mr. Rogers was obsessive about keeping his weight at the same number and weighed in at 143 lbs. for most of his adult life. Why 143? Because the number represents "I love you." "It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three. 'I love you.' Isn't that wonderful?" Mr. Rogers is quoted as saying.
In 1969, Mr. Rogers went to Washington to defend public television when the government threatened to cut funding. President Nixon proposed cutting funding from $20 million to $10 million. Mr. Rogers' impassioned speech saved the funding. After reciting the lyrics to "What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?" the committee's chair, Sen. John O. Pastoreof Rhode Island, said, "Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” Then, in 1971, the government actually increasedspecifically PBS's funding from $9 million to $22 million.