Fred Rogers hated television when he first saw it. That’s why he devoted his life to working in the new medium, finding a way to turn TV into a means to educate and nurture audiences, particularly children. We remember Rogers’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Fred Rogers hated television when he first saw it. That’s why he devoted his life to working in the new medium, finding a way to turn TV into a means to educate and nurture audiences, particularly children. His landmark Public Broadcasting Service program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” ran from 1968 to 2001, producing a staggering 1,005 episodes full of songs, stories, and life lessons delivered with Rogers’ famously gentle voice. We remember Rogers’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1976: Chester Bennington, lead singer of the rock group Linkin Park, is born in Phoenix, Arizona.
1963: Maggie Estep, U.S. poet who released spoken word albums including “No More Mr. Nice Girl,” is born in Summit, New Jersey.
1937: Jerry Reed, U.S. actor and country singer whose well-known songs include “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and “East Bound and Down,” is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
As a singer in the 1970s and early 1980s, Reed had a string of hits that included “Amos Moses,” “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “East Bound and Down,” “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” and “The Bird.” In the mid-1970s, he began acting in movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds, usually as a good ol’ boy. But he was an ornery heavy in “Gator,” directed by Reynolds, and a hateful coach in 1998’s “The Waterboy,” starring Adam Sandler. Read more
1935: Ted Bessell, U.S. actor and director who played love interest Donald Hollinger on That Girl, is born in Flushing, New York.
1928: Fred Rogers, U.S. television host known for his children’s program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” is born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Lest anyone think that Rogers was a humorless do-gooder, his sense of humor extended to an appreciation of parody – even parodies of his own work. The most notable of these was Eddie Murphy’s “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.” Popular on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s, Murphy’s Mister Robinson taught children about considerably different subjects than Mister Rogers – eviction, racism, theft. Rather than being offended, Rogers enjoyed the sketch and found it funny and affectionate. In fact, once when he visited the NBC studios, he made a point of stopping by Murphy’s dressing room to give the sketch his blessing. Read more
1922: Ray Goulding, U.S. actor and comedian who was one-half of the comedy team Bob and Ray, is born in Lowell, Massachusetts.
1918: Marian McPartland, English-American pianist who hosted “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” on NPR from 1978 to 2011, is born in Slough, England.
She also turned her keen ears toward her contemporaries, writing articles and essays that immortalized the people and places of the jazz world in the 1950s and ’60s. In one essay, included in McPartland’s collected works, 1975’s “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby,” she wrote about her experiences as a woman trying to break into the jazz scene in the ’50s, striving to be taken seriously by male musicians unaccustomed to playing with women. “Once a man stood at the bar watching me intently, and when the set was finished he came over and said with a smile, ‘You know, you can’t be a respectable woman the way you play piano,'” she wrote. “For some reason or another, this struck me as a great compliment.” Read more
1918: Jack Barry, U.S. game show host whose programs included “Twenty One” and “Tic Tac Dough,” is born in Lindenhurst, New York.
1915: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, U.S. gospel singer who enjoyed success as the genre’s first great crossover star, is born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas.
1908: Michael Redgrave, English actor and director who was the father of actors Vanessa, Corin and Lynn Redgrave, is born in Bristol, England.
1906: Ozzie Nelson, U.S. actor and bandleader who starred on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” is born in Jersey City, New Jersey.
And – on the show, at least – he was a dream of a dad. He gave advice, but he wasn’t overly stuffy. Sometimes his advice was a little off, sometimes he bumbled things a bit, but it made him all the more lovable. Seemingly he was always around, always available. And he brought up a happy, well-adjusted TV family. Read more
1904: B.F. Skinner, U.S. psychologist known for his work in operant conditioning and for his invention the Skinner Box, is born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.
1828: Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright whose notable works include “Peer Gynt” and “A Doll’s House,” is born in Skien, Norway.