25 Surprising Facts About Boy Meets World

ABC
ABC

On September 24, 1993, television audiences were introduced to Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and his lovable group of friends, family members, and one very important teacher when Boy Meets World made its premiere on ABC. Over the course of seven seasons, fans followed the teen shenanigans of Cory and his buddies, including best friend Shawn (Rider Strong) and girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel). In 2012, old and new fans alike got to revisit Cory and Topanga—now married—as they raised their own teenage daughter in a spinoff, Girl Meets World.

On the 25th anniversary of the original series's premiere, here are 25 things you might not have known about Boy Meets World.

1. CORY WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO HAVE TWO BEST FRIENDS.

In the first three episodes of the show, Cory has a second friend, in addition to Shawn. The show was originally going to feature Cory’s friends as a group, rather than a duo, so the showrunners kept rotating in new friends. But the characters didn’t stick. The cast even started calling the cafeteria chair that those characters sat in the “death chair” because the actors would never return. Finally, in the season one episode "Cory’s Alternative Friends,” Topanga was introduced and the notion of another best friend was lost.

2. SHAWN HAD A SISTER, BUT SHE WAS ONLY EVER MENTIONED ONCE.

In the “Cory’s Alternative Friends” episode, Shawn telephones his sister Stacy. In later episodes, Shawn doesn’t have a sister. Why? It has to do with the aforementioned plan for Corey to have two best friends. While filming the episode, the actor who was going to play one of those friends was fired. Rider Strong, who played Shawn, was given all of his lines at the last minute. In the original script, Stacy wasn’t Shawn’s sister. So, she never shows up in the show again.

3. MR. TURNER DISAPPEARED.

Ben Savage, William Daniels, and Anthony Tyler Quinn in 'Boy Meets World'
ABC

What’s with all the disappearing Boy Meets World characters? Mr. Turner played a vital role in the high school years of the show. Shawn even lives with him for a time. But in the fourth season episode “Cult Fiction,” Mr. Turner gets into a life-threatening motorcycle accident. He never appears on the show again and is rarely mentioned. In the next season, during the graduation episode, Minkus (who has also been MIA since season one) mentions Mr. Turner, saying that they had just been on “the other side of the school.” Mysterious.

Strong claimed that the twentysomething Mr. Turner was written into the show because Friends was popular at the time. But he didn’t quite fit into the show. He did, however, seem to fit into Girl Meets World: He appeared in three episodes of the spinoff.

4. MEMBERS OF TOPANGA'S FAMILY ALSO DISAPPEARED.

Topanga’s family tree is also all over the place. Like Stacy, Topanga’s older sister, Nebula, is a one-episode wonder. She appears in the season one episode “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not,” but is never mentioned again. And Topanga is later referred to as an only child. Topanga’s parents were played by five different actors over the course of the show: Peter Tork, Michael McKean, and Mark Harelik played her father, and her mother was played by both Annette O’Toole and Marcia Cross.

5. STUART MINKUS'S NAME WAS CHANGED FOR A REASON.

The writers changed Lee Norris's character's name to “Stuart Minkus” after it was discovered that there was an actual Stuart Lempke (the character's original name) living in Philadelphia, which is where the show takes place.

6. DANIELLE FISHEL WASN'T THE FIRST TOPANGA.

'Boy Meets World' star Danielle Fishel
Getty Images

Topanga was originally played by a different actress who ultimately didn’t work out for the part. On Fishel’s first day, she made the character very upbeat and peppy—but after rehearsal, co-creator Michael Jacobs waited until everyone went home and had a meeting with her in which he told her that he wanted Topanga to be more of a slow, calm character, and they went through the script line by line. Fishel was terrified that she’d lost the part like the actress who played Topanga before her, so she spent all night practicing the part.

After the next day’s run-through, Fishel recalled that, "Michael started the notes session off with me again. My heart stopped beating regularly, and my palms got sweaty: 'Danielle, yesterday I gave you an enormous amount of notes. I did that because I believed you were capable of handling them,' he said in front of all the writers and producers and my fellow actors. Then he stood up. I panicked. Was he going to fire me, slam his script on the ground, and storm out of there? 'However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations,' he concluded. He started clapping, and all the writers stood up and clapped next to him. Michael wasn’t going to fire me. He believed in me. He gave me a freaking standing ovation."

7. ANOTHER CHARACTER THAT WAS REPLACED: MORGAN MATTHEWS.

In the first two seasons, Lily Nicksay played the youngest member of the Matthews family, Morgan. Then, a few episodes into season three, Lindsay Ridgeway took over the role of Morgan. It was never explained why Nicksay was replaced. In the third season, Corey says, “Morgan, long time no see.” She responds, “Yeah, that was the longest time out I’ve ever had!” Nicksay—who now goes by Lily Gibson—made a few reunion appearances with the cast and even appeared on an episode of Girl Meets World.

8. TOPANGA WAS NAMED AFTER TOPANGA CANYON.

It was taking a while to come up with Topanga’s name and it ended up becoming a last-minute decision. According to Fishel, “Michael Jacobs says he was driving down the highway when production called and said, ‘We need a name for this character!’ He happened to be driving past Topanga Canyon, so he said, ‘Topanga.’ He says that if they had called him two miles later, I would’ve been named Canoga, which is the next exit.”

9. THE YOUNG ACTORS WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER.

Ben Savage and Rider Strong in 'Boy Meets World'
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Just like the show, the set itself revolved around a classroom. During the show’s early years, Savage, Fishel, Strong, and Will Friedle (Eric) were all still in school. Fishel later explained, “When we started the show, we had little sectioned off areas for each one of us to try to focus and work with our own individual teachers, but it always ended up being more like a regular school classroom with all of us chiming in and learning little bits of what everyone else was learning.”

10. RIDER STRONG HATED SHAWN'S HAIRCUT.

Though Shawn’s haircut was beloved by the fans, Strong didn’t feel the same way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to change it. “I hated my hair. I came to the audition with that hairstyle, got the part, and the director Michael Jacobs never let me cut it from there on out,” Strong said. “A bunch of girls at a sleepover told me to wear my hair like that—parted down the center—and I was 12, so I listened. It was my version of Christian Slater. But my hair is wavy and they would straighten it on the show and it would take forever. I wanted to cut my hair so bad, but the only time I got to was when we found out the show was going to be canceled.”

11. STRONG STOLE SHAWN'S FAMOUS LEATHER JACKET.

When the show ended, Strong made off with a nice souvenir. “Disney wouldn't let us take anything, but I had a leather jacket that I had bought on my own, and I swapped it," he said. Unfortunately, someone later stole the jacket from his car in Brooklyn. Strong wasn’t the only rebel in the cast; Savage admitted to stealing a pair of shoes from the show as well.

12. SCENES BETWEEN ERIC AND SHAWN WERE LIMITED FOR A REASON.

Friedle and Strong remain close friends to this day. Their undeniable chemistry made for some hard-to-shoot scenes. In a 2013 reunion, Friedle admitted, “They never let Rider and I do scenes together because we would look at each other and start laughing, so I think over seven years, we had, like, five scenes together.”

13. THE CHARACTERS GO TO JOHN ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL, WHICH IS A POSSIBLE REFERENCE TO WILLIAM DANIELS.

Though it hasn’t been confirmed, many Boy Meets World fans believe that John Adams High School is a nod to Daniels’s career. He played John Adams in the musical and film version of 1776. Another reference to his career: Mr. Feeny calls The Graduate a “great film.” Daniels played Mr. Braddock in the movie.

14. DANIELS DID HAVE A FEENY-ESQUE VIBE ON SET.

He didn’t exactly mentor the kids, as fans might hope. The child actors were definitely intrigued by him, though. They originally thought he was British because he came across as very proper. “There wasn’t a whole lot of socializing off set, but we revered the character and the man,” Savage later said. “When he’d come on set, we’d talk, we’d listen, and we’d absorb, and then he would vanish, like some sort of magical person that just pops into your life. He was like a mystic. He always taught us things, and there was so much to absorb from him.”

15. THE "AND THEN THERE WAS SHAWN" EPISODE WAS A CAST FAVORITE.

Both Friedle and Strong have pointed to the season five episode as a favorite. The 1998 episode was inspired by '90s horror movies like Scream. The episode co-starred Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was dating Friedle in real life. Her character’s name, by the way, was Jennifer Love Fefferman. It’s no wonder the cast “could barely get through the scenes,” as Friedle put it. “We were laughing so hard.”

16. MANY FUTURE STARS APPEARED ON THE SHOW.

Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t the only star to make a guest appearance on Boy Meets World. Future Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott played school bully Griff Hawkins on the second season. Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardellini spent a few episodes almost breaking up Cory and Topanga. In 1995, the same year that Clueless came out, Brittany Murphy played Trini for two episodes. A couple of future Buffy stars also appeared on the show: Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz.

Perhaps the most surprising Boy Meets World guest star is Blake Sennett, who would go on to be the lead guitarist for the band Rilo Kiley and frontman of The Elected. During his child acting days, Sennett went by the name Blake Soper. Like Scott, he played a school bully: Joseph “Joey the Rat” Epstein. His first appearance was in season two and he popped up periodically until the episode “Graduation” in season five.

17. THE SHOW SKIPS SOME GRADES.

Though the show definitely leaps ahead in time, it’s hard to tell when those leaps occur. In season one, Cory, Shawn, and Topanga are in sixth grade. In the season two premiere, the characters are officially seventh graders and enter high school. Then, in the season four episode “I Ain’t Gonna Spray Lettuce No More,” the characters are referred to as 11th graders. Season five represents their senior year and they enter college in season six. Somewhere in there, a couple grades were lost.

18. STRONG WANTED TO QUIT THE SHOW TO GO TO COLLEGE.

 Actor Rider Strong arrives at the premiere of 'Some Girl(s)' at Laemmle NoHo 7 on June 26, 2013 in North Hollywood, California
Angela Weiss, Getty Images

Strong approached the showrunners about quitting to focus on his studies, but Jacobs convinced him that it was possible to do the show while attending college. Strong took all morning classes and then went to work. He even had a dorm room, as the school required, though he didn’t stay there every night. In 2004, four years after the show ended, Strong graduated with an English degree from Columbia University. The academic life suited him; in 2009, he earned an MFA from Bennington College.

19. MAITLAND WARD DIDN'T AUDITION.

Maitland Ward, who joined the show during its college years, had actually auditioned for another of Jacobs’s shows, Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane. He really liked her, but she didn’t end up getting cast. Instead, he later called her to take the role of Jack (Matthew Lawrence) and Eric’s roommate (and crush), Rachel.

20. MICHAEL JACOBS'S SON PLAYED JOSHUA MATTHEWS.

Joshua Matthews is the younger brother of Cory and Eric, who was born during the sixth season. The part was played by various babies until the season finale, when Daniel Jacobs, son of creator Michael Jacobs, played him. Interestingly, Daniel had already made a cameo that season as a different character. He wasn’t originally supposed to be in the episode, but the child actor that they had cast was being too chatty when he was supposed to be silent during a scene. So, Jacobs called his wife, who promptly brought in Daniel to play the part.

21. WILLIE GARSON PLAYED THREE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.


Getty Images

Another famous guest star: Willie Garson, a.k.a. Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City. In two first season episodes, Garson can be seen as the assistant manager of the Market Giant supermarket, where Cory’s father works. He appears again a few years later as Mervyn, who applies for a job at the Matthews’ store. Then, in season seven, he’s the minister who marries Cory and Topanga.

22. ABC RAN AN ONLINE POLL ASKING WHETHER CORY AND TOPANGA SHOULD GET MARRIED.

Jacobs wanted the iconic couple to marry before the show ended. ABC disagreed with the decision. The network executives thought that the characters, who were 20 years old, were far too young to get married. It was actually Jacobs who suggested the Internet poll. The audience wanted to see their favorite couple marry, and they did midway through the last season.

23. THE TEARS IN THE FINALE WERE GENUINE.

The last scene in the classroom with Mr. Feeny was only filmed once. "We did that last scene in one take because we were such a wreck,” Strong explainedBen Savage has said that the last scene was his favorite memory of the show. “When they said, ‘Cut!’ on that final take, it was almost like someone was saying, ‘Say goodbye to your childhood,’” he recalled.

24. THE FINAL SCENE IS THE ONLY SCENE IN THE SHOW WHERE WE SEE FISHEL'S TATTOO.

Because the scene was only filmed once, the crew had four cameras set up to capture all the action. Midway through the scene, a writer asked Jacobs, “What’s on [Danielle’s] neck?” He responded, “Chinese letters.” The writer asked, “Did you ever know they were there before?” Michael responded, “Hair has never given her pigtails before.” Those pigtails revealed a tattoo on Danielle’s neck, which is visible if you look closely,

25. MANY OF THE CHARACTERS RETURNED FOR GIRL MEETS WORLD.

Jacobs has said, “Whoever wants to be part of this show will be and whoever wants to move on will.”

Anthony Blunt: The Art Historian/Russian Spy Who Worked at Buckingham Palace

Samuel West portrays Anthony Blunt in The Crown.
Samuel West portrays Anthony Blunt in The Crown.
Des Willie, Netflix

*Mild spoilers for season 3 of The Crown on Netflix ahead.

Viewers of the third season of The Crown on Netflix will likely have their curiosity piqued by Anthony Blunt, the art historian who is revealed to be a spy for the Russians during his 19 years of service to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Instead of getting the boot once he was discovered, however, Blunt went on to remain under Her Majesty's employ for eight more years—until his official retirement. While treason never looks good on a resume, the royal class had good reason to keep him on.

Blunt, who was born and raised in England, visited the Soviet Union in 1933 and was indoctrinated as a spy after being convinced of the benefits of Communism in fighting fascism. He began recruiting his university classmates at Cambridge before serving during World War II and leaking information about the Germans to the KGB. Blunt was one of five Cambridge graduates under Soviet direction. Two of them, diplomats Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, relocated to the Soviet Union in 1951. Another, Kim Philby, went undetected until 1961. John Cairncross escaped notice, too, but was eventually outed.

However, it was Blunt who had a post at Buckingham Palace. After being tipped off by American intelligence, MI5 interrogated Blunt. He confessed to his treachery in 1964 and was granted immunity from prosecution. Why was he able to remain employed? One theory has it that British intelligence was so embarrassed by Blunt's ability to circulate in the upper levels of the monarchy that firing him would have raised too many questions. Another thought has Blunt having knowledge of some bizarrely congenial wartime correspondence between Adolf Hitler and the Duke of Windsor (a.k.a. King Edward VIII, whose abdication led to Elizabeth's eventual ascension to the throne).

Whatever the case, the Queen was advised by MI5 to keep Blunt around. In his role as art curator, he had no access to classified information. Blunt was at the Palace through 1972 and spent another seven years roaming London giving lectures. His actions remained a tightly guarded secret until Margaret Thatcher disclosed his treason in 1979.

As for that speech seen in The Crown, where Olivia Colman's Queen Elizabeth makes some not-so-subtle digs at Blunt at the opening of a new exhibition, there's no record of such a takedown ever happening. While the two reportedly kept their distance from each other in private, according to Miranda Carter's Anthony Blunt: His Lives:

“Blunt continued to meet the Queen at official events. She came to the opening of the Courtauld’s new galleries in 1968, and in 1972 she personally congratulated Blunt on his retirement, when the Lord Chamberlain, knowing nothing of his disgrace, offered him the honorary post of Adviser on the Queen’s pictures—inadvertently continuing his association with the Palace for another six years.”

Stripped of his knighthood as a result of the truth about his actions being made known, Blunt became a recluse and died of a heart attack in 1983. His memoirs, which were made public by the British Library in 2009, indicated his regret, calling his spy work "the biggest mistake of my life."

41 Wonderful Facts About Mister Rogers

PBS Television, Getty Images
PBS Television, Getty Images

Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. Just ahead of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a new biopic in which Tom Hanks stars everyone's favorite "neighbor," here are 41 things you might not have known about Fred Rogers.

1. Fred Rogers was bullied as a child.

A publciity image of David Newell (L) and Fred Rogers (R) from 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' is pictured
Focus Features

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Massachusetts's Nantucket island—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and was regularly taunted by his classmates.

"I used to cry to myself when I was alone," Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano."

2. Rogers left Dartmouth College after one year.

Rogers was an Ivy League dropout. He spent his freshman year at Dartmouth College, then transferred to Rollins College, where he pursued a degree in music.

3. He was an accomplished musician.

Fred Rogers in a still from 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' (2018)
Focus Features

Rogers transferred to Rollins College in order to pursue a degree in music and graduated Magna cum laude. In addition to his talent for playing the piano, Rogers was also an incredible songwriter.

4. He wrote the music for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Need proof of Rogers's songwriting prowess? He wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

5. Playing the piano was his favorite stress-reducer.

Whenever Rogers began to feel anxious or overwhelmed, he would play the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood theme song on the piano as a way to calm his nerves.

6. He had a strict daily routine.

Rogers was a stickler when it came to his daily routine: He started his day at 5 a.m. and made time for a prayer as well as some studying, writing, phone calls, swimming, and responding to his fan mail.

7. He weighed himself daily.

Mister Rogers
Getty Images

Another part of Rogers's daily routine included a daily weigh-in. He liked to maintain a weight of exactly 143 pounds.

8. His weight had a special meaning.

Rogers's regular weight of 143 had special meaning to him. "It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you," Rogers once said. "One hundred and forty-three."

9. Pennsylvania celebrated 143 day in 2019.

In 2019, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born near Pittsburgh and lived his whole life in the area. By honoring Rogers with his own holiday, the individuals behind the 143 Day campaign wanted to encourage people to be kind to their neighbors on May 23—and every other day of the year.

10. Rogers responded to every fan letter he received.

Rogers took time out of each day to respond to his fan mail, and he responded to each and every letter he received—approximately 50 to 100 letters per day. "He respected the kids who wrote," Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

11. No feeling was too big—or small—for Mr. Rogers to talk about.

A promotional image of Fred Rogers for 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' is pictured
Amazon

Over the many years he worked with children, Rogers spoke very openly about his and their feelings on every sort of topic, from why kids shouldn't be afraid of haircuts to divorce and war.

12. He spent five episodes talking about nuclear war.

Since its inception on Pittsburgh's WQED in 1968, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had informed its young audience about topical issues in subversive and disarming ways. When civil rights were discussed, host Fred Rogers didn’t deliver a lecture about tolerance. Instead, he invited a black friend, Officer Clemmons, to cool off in his inflatable pool, a subtle nod to desegregation.

Rogers conceived and taped a five-episode storyline on the subject in the summer of 1983, which wound up being prescient. In November 1983, president Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada to topple a Marxist regime.

“Little did I know we would be involved in a worldwide conflict now,” Rogers told the Associated Press. “But that’s all the better because our shows give families an opportunity for communication. If children should hear the news of war, at least they have a handle here, to assist in family communications.”

13. Rogers had a special way of talking to kids.

Mr. Rogers knew children well. He knew how they thought, what they liked, what they feared, and what they struggled to understand—and he went to great lengths to ensure he never upset or confused his devoted viewers.Mr. Rogers knew children well. He knew how they thought, what they liked, what they feared, and what they struggled to understand—and he went to great lengths to ensure he never upset or confused his devoted viewers.

Maxwell King, author of the forthcoming book The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, wrote in The Atlantic that Mr. Rogers carefully chose his words while filming Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He understood that children think in a literal way, and a phrase that might sound perfectly fine to adult ears could be misinterpreted by younger audiences.

Rogers was “extraordinarily good at imagining where children’s minds might go,” King said, adding that Mr. Rogers wrote a song called “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” because he knew this might be a fear shared by many children.

14. Rogers used King Friday to make Friday the 13th less scary for kids.

King Friday XIII, son of King Charming Thursday XII and Queen Cinderella Monday, is an avid arts lover, a talented whistler, and a former pole vaulter. He reigns over Calendarland with lots of pomp and poise, and he’s usually correct.

Fans of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood may also remember that King Friday XIII, who reigned over Calendarland, was born on Friday the 13th, because his birthday was celebrated on the program every Friday the 13th. Though the math isn’t perfect—according to Timeanddate.com , Friday the 13th sometimes happens two or three times a year—the reason behind it absolutely is.

Rogers explained that he wanted to give children a reason to look forward to Friday the 13th, instead of buying into the negative superstitions that surround the dreaded date. “We thought, ‘Let’s start children out thinking that Friday the 13th was a fun day,’” he said in a 1999 interview. “So we would celebrate his birthday every time a Friday the 13th came.”

15. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Rogers was an ordained minister who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a 6-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

16. Rogers was not a fan of foul language.

If Rogers used the word mercy, it probably meant that he was feeling overwhelmed. He was typically heard saying it when he sat down at his desk in the morning and saw the mountain of fan mail awaiting him. But mercy was about the strongest word in his vocabulary.

17. Rogers was not a fan of television, which is why he gravitated toward it.


Rogers’s decision to work in television wasn’t out of a love for the medium. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

18. There's a reason why the stoplight is always yellow in the opening sequence to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

In the opening sequence of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the stoplight is always on yellow as a reminder to kids—and their parents—to slow down a little.

19. Rogers believed that patience was a virtue—even if it meant dead air time.

Rogers wasn't afraid of dead air: He once invited a marine biologist onto the show and put a microphone into his fish tank, because he wanted the kids at home to see (and hear) that fish make sounds when they eat. While taping the segment, however, the fish weren't hungry so the marine biologist started trying to egg the fish on. But Rogers just sat there, waiting quietly. The crew figured they'd need to re-tape it, but Rogers didn't want to. He thought it was a great lesson in teaching kids the importance of being patient.

20. Rogers always made sure to announce that he was feeding his fish for a very specific reason.

Rogers always mentioned out loud that he was feeding his fish because a young blind viewer once asked him to do so. She wanted to know the fish were OK.

21. Rogers was not a fan of ad-libbing.

Rogers was a perfectionist, and very much disliked ad-libbing. He felt that he owed it to the kids who watched his show to make sure that every word on his show was thought out.

22. Kids who watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood retained more than those who watched Sesame Street.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

23. Animals loved Rogers as much as people did.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understood 2000 English words, was an avid fan, too. When Rogers visited once her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

24. Rogers's mother knitted all of his sweaters.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he said.

25. One of rogers's sweaters lives in the Smithsonian.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

26. Rogers's sweater collection was actually challenging to maintain.

Fred's mother, Nancy Rogers, died in 1981. Rogers continued wearing the sweaters she had made for years ... until it became obvious that they wouldn’t endure many more tapings of the show. Replacements were sought, but art director Kathy Borland quickly discovered that the search was not unlike trying to replace Superman’s cape. A Fred Rogers sweater needed a zipper with a smooth operation so it wouldn’t snag on camera. It also needed to be vibrant.

Nothing fit the bill until Borland saw a United States Postal Service employee walking down the street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—where the show taped—and took note of his cardigan. Borland phoned postal supply distributors and was able to secure a fresh inventory of sweaters (which she bought white, and then dyed) that kept Rogers looking like himself through the show’s final episode in 2001.

27. Rogers changed into sneakers as a production practicality.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a production-related consideration. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

28. He invited the driver who took him to a PBS dinner to eat with them.

While being transported to a PBS executive's house, Rogers heard his limo driver say that he was going to have to wait outside for two hours while the party dined—so Rogers insisted that the driver join them for dinner.

On the ride back home, Rogers sat in the front of the car with the driver, who mentioned that they were passing his house on their way back to Rogers's home. So Rogers asked if they could stop in to meet the family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life: Rogers played piano for the family and chatted with them until late into the night.

29. No, Rogers was never a sniper.

The internet has stirred up all sorts of bizarre rumors about Rogers, including one that he served in the army and was a sniper in Vietnam and another that he served in the army and was a sniper in Korea. As exciting as that might make an upcoming biopics, these are both untrue.

30. Rogers was partly responsible for helping to save public television.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

31. Rogers also helped to save the VCR.

Years after he appeared before the Senate, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement. Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

32. At least one professor believes that rogers's impact on kids wasn't all that positive.

LSU professor Don Chance is one of the few people who isn't 100 positive about Rogers's legacy: He believes that Rogers created a, "culture of excessive doting" which resulted in generations of lazy, entitled college students.

33. He was regularly parodied—and loved every second of it.

Rogers was regularly parodied, and he loved it. The first time Eddie Murphy met Mr. Rogers, he couldn't stop himself from giving the guy a big hug.

34. Rogers was colorblind.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

"Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup."

35. Michael Keaton got his start on MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

36. Rogers gave George Romero his first paying gig, too.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Night of the Living Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made."

37. Rogers paid a visit to Sesame Street in 1981.

Though Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street were both PBS shows, they were technically competitors—though the show’s producers didn’t exactly act like it. As a result, Rogers made an appearance on Sesame Street in May 1981.

The video opens with Rogers wearing a suit and tie instead of his usual cardigan sweater. He's standing outside of a storefront when Big Bird approaches and asks if he’ll judge a race between him and Snuffy. (The theme of the segment was competition and, more importantly, maintaining friendships whether you win or lose.)

38. He made a guest appearance on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, too.

Rogers once played a pastor's mentor on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

39. Many of the characters on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were named after people in Rogers's life.

McFeely, for example, was Rogers's grandfather's name; Queen Sara was named for Rogers's wife.

40. Rogers got his own stamp in 2018.


USPS

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp with Rogers's image on it. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

41. He was turned into a Funko Pop!

Also in honor of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood 50th anniversary, the kindest soul to ever grace a television screen was honored with a series of Funko toys, including a Funko Pop! figure.

Ready to learn more about Fred Rogers? Watch the video below, where John Green brings you a whole pile of things you should know about everybody's favorite neighbor.

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