Mr. Rogers had about 25 sweaters that he wore over the years of the program. They were all hand-knit by his mother, who, each year, would make one for each of her children and give it to them as a Christmas present.
Guests on the show were often surprised to find that although Rogers was just as gentle and patient in life as he was on television, he was nevertheless a perfectionist who did not allow "shoddy" ad-libbing; he believed that children were thoughtful people who deserved programming as good as anything produced for adults on television.
Caroll Spinney, who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street (1969), agreed to appear in an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) in the 1980s. When Spinney received the script for the show, which required him to remove his costume and discuss the inner-workings of the Big Bird puppet, however, he refused - he didn't believe in ruining the illusion of Big Bird for the children. Instead, Spinney as Big Bird appeared in a segment of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
Daniel Stripèd Tiger was the first resident of the Neighborhood of Make Believe. He was created in 1954 for The Children's Corner (1955). Daniel Stripèd Tiger and King Friday XIII were the first-ever puppets created and used by Fred Rogers while he appeared on that show. The show also featured Rogers' other puppet creations, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde. They were also on MisteRogers (1961), which was the precursor to this show.
Mr. McFeely's name was originally Mr. McCurdy. Fred Rogers had named him after the man who was the show's benefactor at the time. But The Sears-Roebuck Foundation called and did not like the idea. Thus, Rogers changed the name of the delivery man to Mr. McFeely, naming him after his own grandfather.
All original songs are composed by Fred Rogers, who was a trained composer. Josie Carey, who had worked with Rogers on The Children's Corner (1955), provided lyrics for a few songs, among them "Then Your Heart is Full of Love" and "I'm Glad I'm The Way I Am."
Although Fred Rogers himself, decided to quit making new episodes in 2001, this was never mentioned or hinted at on the program itself. The rationale was that most viewers of the show would grow out of the show before they realized that only reruns were playing.
Season 9 only consisted of 5 episodes and it was set up to prepare the viewers for a large mass of reruns, dating back as far as episode #1001 from 1969. Throughout the week of Season 9, Episodes #1456-1460, which aired from February 16-20, 1976, Mr. Rogers played back tapes of past episodes and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe that dealt with the topic of then and now. After February 20, 1976, there were no more new episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) until August 20, 1979.
In the week of Go Stop Go, the numbers on King Friday and Handyman Negri's fire fighter helmets are 143. 143 was Fred Rogers numerical way of saying "I Love You" by counting the letters in each word. "I (1) Love (4) You (3)". This concept was first demonstrated on the show in the week of "Transformations," #1696-1700, from 1996, in which Daniel Stripèd Tiger demonstrates this to his friends. Though this is the first time 143 had been explained fully, it had been used subtly in past episodes.
Both of Fred Rogers' sons and one of his grandsons appeared on the show with him. Jim Rogers appeared in episode #1202, from February 29, 1972. Jim and his son Alex both appeared in "Fathers & Music," episode #1623, from August 1, 1990.
Episodes #1215 and #1508 are the only two occasions in the show's entire run in which Audrey Roth's real name is spoken by Fred Rogers. She is otherwise referred to as "Audrey" or "Audrey Cleans Everything" and, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, "Miss Audrey Paulifficate."
Daniel Stripèd Tiger is named after WQED's General manager, Dorothy Daniel, who gave Fred Rogers a tiger puppet the evening before The Children's Corner (1955) first went on the air. The puppet immediately became part of the show.
Johnny Costa was the musical director of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968), as well as pianist, conductor and arranger. Following the death of Costa in 1996, his music continued to be used on the show.
The three buildings directly to the bottom right of the tall red building in the Neighborhood model each represent a shop owned by one of Fred Rogers's neighbors. The tall yellow one was Brockett's Bakery. The small green one was Joe Negri's Music Shop and the tall blue one was Betty Aberlin's little theater. After 1993, the small green building was replaced by a taller brick building. Originally, that building represented a shop in Colonial Williamsburg, which Mr. Rogers would visit in episode #1675, which was broadcast in February 1994. After that the model building was modified, further shows would use this red brick building to represent either Negri's Music Shop or (on two occasions) a toy and book store run by Tony Chiroldes.
The object on the left side of the castle with pipes leading out of it seen in early 1980s episodes, though unfamiliar with younger viewers, is the castle fountain, first assembled in #1139 from 1971 and used frequently in the mid-1970s episodes. The fountain was dismantled and removed in 1981.
All episodes made from 1979 to 2001 currently air on PBS, except for the week titled "Conflict," shows #1521-1525. Due to its content on bombs and war, and the recent events in the news pertaining to war and violence, it has not aired on TV since the week of April 1-5, 1996.
The fish in Mr. Rogers's tank often include angel fish, swordtails, tetras, and mollies. The fish tank became a permanent part of the television house set in Season 1, Episode #87, which first aired June 18, 1968.
From its premiere in February 1968 up to 1975, when the show went on hiatus, a total of 590 episodes were produced. When the show returned in 1979 and ran to 2001, a total of 305 episodes were produced, bringing the grand total to 895 original episodes produced in the show's 33-year run. PBS decided that the 305 newer episodes were enough to cover the year, so the 590 classic episodes from 1968-1975 were taken out of circulation for the time being and had their last airing on PBS in 1995.
From 1968-1970, the show's main title was spelled "MisteRogers' Neighborhood," but out of concern for children's spelling skills, the title was changed to "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" starting with Episode #1131, which aired 15 February 1971. However, during the ensuing years, dozens of newspapers would spell it the old way.
Mr. McFeely (David Newell) had two different Speedy Delivery songs. The first began, "That's what you'll get," and was first used in the opera "All in the Laundry" in Show #1370, which aired 19 April 1974. The second song, introduced on Show #1631 from 25 Feburary 1991, had two versions. The first version started, "Is there anything you want?/Is there anything you need?" After three years the opening lines were changed to "If there's anything you want/If there's anything you need...." This is the version most viewers are familiar with, as Mr. McFeely sang it with almost every appearance from 1997 to 2001.
Ana Platypus's full name is Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which is the scientific name for the duckbill platypus. Rogers composed a song called "Ornithorhynchus anatinus" for Ana. It spanned from episode #1105 on 27 March 1970 (the day after Ana's birth) to episode #1264 on 22 Feb. 1973.
The walls inside Mr. Rogers's television house were originally painted a bright yellow, revealed when the show went to color in 1969. In episode #1326, the premiere episode of Season 7, Mr. Rogers put on overalls and painted the walls blue, which is the color that that remained in all subsequent shows up until the show's end in 2001.
Marilyn Barnett first appeared on the show in episode #1259, which aired as the next to last episode of 1972. She continued to provide exercises for Rogers, mostly in the 1990s (Her last appearance was in Show #1749, which aired 26 August 1999). Maggie Stewart was also on the old shows, playing Mayor Maggie, beginning with Show #1402. Her roles in the 1975 were rather short, concluding with the opera "Key to Otherland" in episode #1425, when she played Lorraine Beaver. Stewart did not perform sign-language (her forte) until 23 November 1987, the first show in Alike and Different week. Mayor Maggie appeared at least once in every week of shows released February 1991 to August 2001. In Show #1517 from Day Care and Night Care week, which aired in April 1983, Stewart sang "Then Your Heart is Full of Love," which had been heard on the show since 1968.
Fred Rogers never appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as himself, although in the first few seasons of the show he used to interact with the characters. In episode 1 he called Edgar Cooke (Whom Fred Rogers also voiced) on the telephone can (We didn't hear Edgar's voice on the other line though) and he'd look through a telescope to the Neighborhood of Make Believe. At the end of the NoMB segment in episode 1, King Friday says, "I wonder what Mr. Rogers would say about this," and sends a note to him on the trolley. Betty Aberlin played her Neighborhood of Make-Believe character, Lady Aberlin, in the real neighborhood in 1013 from 1969 when she gives Mr. Rogers an invitation to the wedding of King Friday and Queen Sara. Joe Negri plays his Neighborhood of Make- Believe character, Handyman Negri, in the real neighborhood during the week of episodes 1001-1005 in 1969. Both performers had always played themselves in the real neighborhood from then on.
Robert Trow first appeared in episode #129 in the first season playing Robert Troll, an elf with a mild speech impediment who lived behind the castle. Robert Trow did not appear as himself until episode #1066 in Season 3.
Episode #1184 from Season 4, 1971, was the first time musician Eric Kloss appeared on the show. He was second only to Johnny Costa for the most appearances by any musician. Kloss only appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe once.
Harriet Elizabeth Cow first appeared in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe in Episode #1274, from 1973. She was named after a cow named Harriet that Mrs. McFeely had in the real neighborhood. That episode, and #1276 from the following week, were adapted into a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood book called "No One Can Ever Take Your Place," which was published in 1988.
Episode #1475, "The Windstorm in Bubbleland Opera," is the only episode in the show's history that does not feature the the logo of Mister Rogers's Neighborhood in the opening. Instead, about 8 seconds into the beginning, the episode title, "Mister Rogers Makes an Opera," appears. It is also the only episode in which Fred Rogers arrives at the television house already in his sweater and does NOT go inside.
Bill Barker (the puppeteer behind Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus) was an old friend of Fred Rogers and first appeared on the show as himself in episode #99, from 1968. He would return a year later to perform as Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean.
The little models of the Neighborhood of Make Believe buildings often used to begin the Make Believe segments were built by Robert Trow, who made and gave them to Mr. Rogers during the first week of episodes that began the 3rd season in 1970. Each day Mr. Rogers got a new model. He received the clock and the castle in #1066, the tree in No. 1067, the Museum-Go-Round in No. 1068, the Platypus Mound in No. 1069 and Corny's factory in No. 1070. However the Eiffel Tower (which was very rarely used) was not received until No. 1080.
Castle telephone operator Miss Paulifficate, Audrey Roth's character in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, did not appear onscreen until episode #1139 (aired February 25, 1971). This was also the show in which Audrey Roth appeared in the real neighborhood, billing herself as "Audrey Cleans Everything."
King Friday XIII's two wooden birds on a stick are named Troglodytes aedon and Mimus polyglottos (the scientific names, in genus and species, of the ghouse wren and mockingbird). Mimus appeared first in Episode #20 from 1968 and again in Show #63. Troglodytes aedon was introduced in Show #1285 from 1973. After Show #1307, also in 1973, Mimus Polyglotts was not seen again until Episode #1591 in May 1988.
The show went to color in 1969, starting with episode #1001, which, despite being the 131st episode, was the first episode to adapt the four-digit numbering system that was used in each additional episode from 1969 up to 2001.
From 1968 to 1986, a total of 13 Neighborhood operas were made. They were performed as follows: episode 45, in which Lady Aberlin as a mother who hires a babysitter (John Reardon) to look after her child (Donkey Hodie). Episode 84, in which Lady Elaine plays a campsite owner who objects to some guests (John Reardon and Betty Aberlin). Episode 1055, from 1969, in which people sail the ocean searching for a lost teddy bear. Episode 1125, "The Hawaiian Opera," from 1970, in which Reardon and Lady Aberlin play telephone operators. Episode 1169, "A Monkey's Uncle: The Organ Grinder Opera," from 1971, with John Reardon as an organ grinder, Lady Aberlin as a zoo keeper, and Chef Brockett as a chimpanzee. Episode 1245, "The Snow People Opera," from 1972, with an evil witch (Lady Elaine Fairchilde) who helps Lady Aberlin turn François Scarborough Clemmons and Yoshi Ito into snow people. The snow can only be melted with a very special teacher (John Reardon) and a warm pussycat - Henrietta Pussycat and bring them together. A later program, episode 1515, from February 1983, had a story line similar to this one: Lady Elaine Fairchilde, as herself, causes a snow storm in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and they use a very special teacher, Harriet Elizabeth Cow, and a warm pussycat, Henrietta Pussycat, again. Episode 1300, "Potato Bugs and Cows," from Friday, 13 April 1973, featuring Lady Aberlin as Priscilla the Cow, Chef Brockett as a groovy potato bug, and Reardon as a farmer. Episode 1370, "All in the Laundry," from 1974, in which Reardon is a poor worker in Lady Elaine's Latrobe Laundromat (X the Owl and Yoshi Ito played customers). This was the only opera to include Mr. McFeely (David Newell, giving him the song "A Speedy Delivery" to sing. Episode 1425, "Key to Otherland," from 1975, featuring John Reardon as a swan and Lady Elaine as a wicked witch who runs a taffy factory. Episode 1475, "Windstorm in Bubbleland," from 23 May 1980, featuring John Reardon as a news reporter, Lady Aberlin as a sweater maker, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde as a hummingbird that can stop an impending storm. Episode 1505, "Spoon Mountain," from 1982, the only opera not to feature Rogers's puppets, starred Chuck Aber as a prince and Robert Trow as the wicked Knife and Fork who kidnap a baton-twirling kitty. Episode 1535, "A Grandad for Daniel," from May 1984, featuring Lady Aberlin as a trolley driver and John Reardon as a long-lost grandfather. Episode #1565, "A Star For Kitty," from 9 May 1986 (the last opera), starred Lady Aberlin as a cat who wanted a star and Daniel Stripèd Tiger as a star who didn't want to leave the sky.
Fred Rogers's primary puppets first used on the show were King Friday XIII, Daniel Stripèd Tiger, X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Cornflake S. Pecially, Edgar Cooke, Grandpère, and the Froggs. Lady Elaine Fairchilde first appeared in episode #5. Grandpère first appeared in episode #6. Donkey Hodie first appeared in Episode #16. Sara Saturday debuted in episode #32. Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus debuted in episode #1016. Ana Platypus was born in episode #1104. Prince Tuesday was born in episode #1117. H.J. Elephant III debuted in episode #1402, the same episode in which Maggie Stewart first appeared. Harriet Elizabeth Cow first appeared during the week of episodes #1296-1300, the week of the Potato Opera. Prince Tuesday and Ana Platypus grew to young children during the week of episodes #1461-1465.
The Frogg Family were residents of the Neighborhood of Make Believe until the start of the 1969 season, #1001, in which Mrs. Frogg is offered a position at the zoo in Westwood. Mrs. Frogg also ran the Museum Go Round before Lady Elaine Fairchilde. Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus moved to the neighborhood several weeks after the Frogg family left.
In episode #1689, "Everybody's Special Part 4," Fred Rogers said he had never made a puppet out of a spoon before. Actually, he did. Back in episode #1070, from 1969, he made a Cornflake S. Pecially puppet out of a wooden spoon.