There was a moment at the 1998 Daytime Emmys when Mister Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Tom Junod covered the story for Esquire magazine.
"...Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award -- and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone: 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.
And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, I'll watch the time. There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds -- and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, May God be with you to all his vanquished children."
On the eve of the announcement that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood would cease production of new episodes, TV Guide interviewed Rogers and led the story with an anecdote. Apparently, Rogers had been driving the same car for years, an old second-hand Impala. Then it was stolen from its parking spot near the WQED studio. Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by local news outlets, and general shock swept across town. Within 48 hours the car was back in the spot where he left it, along with a note saying "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it!"
I'd never heard of Fred Rogers until I heard Loudon Wainwright's tribute and he talked about him when introducing the song which prompted me to read more about him. Even though Mr Rogers doesn't have the same resonance for me as I'm sure he does for many, this song always makes me a little sad: Hank and Fred
Anyway, a great clip and I'm always glad to hear and read more about Fred Rogers - he seems like a true one-off.