Everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers, moved into the neighborhood 50 years ago, educating and entertaining generations of American children.
A Presbyterian minister and puppeteer, Rogers launched his television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” nationwide on February 19, 1968, on National Educational Television, a PBS forebear. (Earlier iterations of the program aired in Canada under the name “Mister Rogers.”)
The series would go on to earn multiple Daytime Emmys and a prestigious Peabody Award — and, with nearly 900 episodes, was the longest-running kids show when it ended on August 31, 2001 (eventually unseated by “Sesame Street”). While the legacy of Rogers’ toot-tooting trolley and flock of felt friends certainly still endures, the program’s most iconic bit of ephemera has got to be Rogers’ colorful cardigans, which he donned at the beginning of each and every episode. And those warm fuzzies come with an awwww-inspiring origin story: Rogers’ mother, Nancy, knit a new one for him every year as a Christmas present.
Mr. Rogers died from stomach cancer in 2003, but we’ll always have those sweaters (and an upcoming film starring Tom Hanks) to remember him by. On the occasion of his show’s 50th anniversary, we mine his rainbow-colored closet. (Pictured: The yellow cardigan that was perhaps the most sedate of the bunch, but still boasts an ardent fan base.)
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