Fred Rogers on Google Video

Mr. Rogers, one of my personal heroes, did an extended interview with the Archive of American Television in 1999. Google put the entire thing, 4 1/2 hours uncut, online recently and it’s amazing.

Watch the entire Mr. Rogers interview online.

Back already? Ok, here are my favorite quotes from the interview…

> The major dramas in life are never center stage, and they’re rarely under the bright lights. They’re always happening off camera…that might be one of the best things to remember — that the best things of life are way off stage; never highly-touted. It’s the little epiphanies that matter most.

– part 2

> You’ll never find me saying that ANY machine is better than a person.

– part 3

> I guess there’ll always be pie-throwing programs, but I don’t think they have to be in the majority.

– part 3

> It’s a real blessing to be part of a community of givers. If your main focus happens to be the person who is going to be watching what you’re producing, that to me is the greatest thing you could ever have. It’s so so much more important than how many people are going to be watching. What if this person who is watching is somehow moved to do something of value because of what you’ve put on the air?

– part 3

> His name was King Friday the 13th, because so many people are so superstitious about Friday the 13th and we thought “Let’s start children out thinking Friday the 13th is a fun day, and every Friday the 13th would be his birthday.”

– part 4

> We sang “Goodnight God” on the Children’s Corner on NBC…and they called us in and said “We think it better that you not mention God on the program.” And I said “Well then I don’t think we’ll come back.” They had a lot of viewers for our program so they rescinded that. You can be an agent of what’s good and not have to be terribly direct about it.

– part 4

> How many clothes can you wear? How many cars can you drive? How big of a shelter do you really need? Some people get so caught up in the trappings of life; I feel that they lose what is real. And so my desire is to help children realize that deep and simple are far far more important than shallow and complicated and fancy.

– part 4

> It makes me think now that parents who are watching our neighborhood with their children, if the neighborhood re-evokes their own childhood, when they were watching, that could be one of the greatest gifts we give the next generation. Because if they’re in touch with who they were as children, they’ll be able to be far more empathic with their children.

– part 4

> To be enthusiastic about something that somebody else might learn to love, what a gift! It’s a blessing to pass on something that you love to somebody else. There isn’t any better gift.

– part 4

> I disapprove of hosts of children’s programming pitching anything, because they’re to be trusted by the children, and they’re not to use that trust to be hucksters.

– part 5

> In my child development work, I knew that very young children, as they were learning their language, once they had mastered their language they just loved playing with words; they loved to do non-sensical stuff…”blah-blee-doog-iggity-ble-ble-blu”.

– part 6, “blah-blee” at 10:19

> That’s our response to what the people in the field of child development would call “permissible regression” — regression in the service of the ego. In other words, stepping back and feeling that it’s all right to do younger things in order for you to then later go forward.

– part 6, 21:00

> Many children will do what adults might consider inappropriate things for their age when they happen to be feeling stressful. Well, all they’re doing is going back to an earlier time to help their feelings at the moment. That doesn’t mean they’re going to stay there all the time, it just means they’re regrouping so that they can take the next step in their own development.

– part 6, 23:30

> In the opening reality of the program we deal with the stuff that dreams are made of. And then in the neighborhood of make-believe we deal with it as if it were in the dream. And then when it comes back to me we deal with the simple interpretation of the dream…anything can happen in make-believe, and we can talk about anything in reality. Margaret used to say “Whatever is mentionable is manageable”.

– part 7, 1:00

> Whatever your way of dealing with grief is, please include your children.

– part 7, 3:45

> She came and we put this thing into the tank, and you couldn’t hear a thing. The fish weren’t speaking, i guess! And so we went through it and she said, “Well, that’s that.” And I knew that later in the program I had a film about it anyway, so I just said “Well, sometimes things just don’t work.” And she said “Yeah, that’s right.” And so we ended the scene and people said “Well I guess you’ll want to do that again.” And I said “No, I don’t. I want the children to see that even with adults it doesn’t always work out the way you planned.” And so that’s in the program — that fish don’t make any sounds!

– part 7, 14:30

> The people who have the toughest time in life inspire me so enormously…many people who have exceedingly obvious difficulties are able to let us be more in touch with our own.

– part 7, 28:30

> I’ve had people walk up to me..and not even stopping, say such things as “Thank you for my childhood”. It is such a fabulous thing to walk through this life with this face. The things that people have such trust that I will respond in a caring way that, well, how can I say how grateful I am for what I’ve been able to do and be. How can I ever express my gratitude enough?

– part 8, 19:40

> I do believe that saying thank you is one of the greatest things that people can do. And I worry about those who don’t feel the necessity of giving thanks. That that isn’t important. I think it’s one of the most important things there is.

– part 8, 21:00

> My greatest challenge is to walk through the door and sing “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood” when I’ve had real sadness in my life. I had to go to Miami one hour after my father’s funeral because they were having an MR day there that they said couldn’t be cancelled…and I’ll never forget that we had 23 15-minute performances in one day, and I had to sing “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood” for each one of them…the first time I started, just before, he was playing the music…I just started to bawl. And by the time he had finished the introduction, my eyes were wet, but I went out on the place and started singing “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,” and did it for every one of those 15 minute things the whole day long, and got through it, and listened to what the kids had to say. One child put up his hand and said “Mister Rogers, I just wear diapers at night now.” That was a very big step in that child’s life. And I knew that Dad was in a good place…that was one of the hardest times. But when you know that you can make a difference in somebody’s life…and you may want to know how I answered that child who said that to me. I said “Well, it will be up to you when you give them up at night.” And the people in the room, I remember that at first they snickered, and I told the kid what an important thing he had shared with me.

– part 8, 25:00

> I’d just like to be remembered for being a compassionate human being who happened to be fortunate enough to be born at a time where there was this fabulous thing called television

– part 9, 12:00

> [Answering mail] is my prime responsibility. It’s the only way people have of letting us know how they feel about what we’re doing…we still answer every letter that comes.

– part 9, 17:00

> We put our work where our mouth is.

– part 9, 17:20

> Hospitality is one of the main things that people are looking for in this life.

– part 9, 18:50

> I think that helps in a marriage, to have times apart. You come back and you have so much to talk about and so much to share.

– part 9, 24:00