It is a rarity for people in the public eye to spend their entire life and still be remembered as somebody with full integrity and truly authentic. Fred Rodgers hosted Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood from 1968 to 2001. His show like the man was all about helping children to understand and deal with the world around them. The topics of the shows focused on anything a child could see or feel, simple topics like fear of being washed down a bathtub drain up to more complex subjects understanding conflict such as war in the world.
Deep down the message was like yourself, find the good in others, be the best person you can so that you can be a good neighbor to others.
He was a soft spoken man who was an easy target for parody. While he didn’t like Burger King’s parody of him (he was against the company profiting from his image and thought it would confuse children), he did like Eddy Murphy’s SNL parody (because it aired late at night).
When presented with a Emmy for lifetime achievement Mr. Rodgers accepted by saying “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence.”
He died of stomach cancer in 2003. His work lives on through fredrodgers.org