September 21, 2018
Celebrating Mister Rogers
“Through television we have a great chance to show and tell our children that they really matter, even when they’re very little…We have a chance to communicate the fact that childhood lies at the very basis of who people are and who they become.”
Go behind-the-scenes of today’s Doodle below!
Footage from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood provided courtesy of The Fred Rogers Company. © 1998, All Rights Reserved.
On this date, September 21, 1967, 51 years ago, Fred Rogers walked into the television studio at WQED in Pittsburgh to tape the very first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which would premiere nationally on PBS in February 1968. He became known as Mister Rogers, nationally beloved, sweater wearing, “television neighbor,” whose groundbreaking children’s series inspired and educated generations of young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty.
Rogers grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a small town near Pittsburgh. Music was his first love, and he studied music composition at Rollins College. Just before graduating in 1951, he happened to watch some children’s television shows and described them as “a lot of nonsense, pies in faces.” He felt children deserved better and headed for New York, serving as an apprentice and floor manager for the music shows at NBC.
Returning to Pittsburgh, Rogers eventually added the ministry and lifelong studies in child development to his talents, bringing them to WQED, where he produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He drew on all of his talents, including being a gifted communicator, to wear many hats, serving as creator, host, producer, script writer, composer, lyricist, and main puppeteer for almost 900 programs.
Rogers’ reputation as a champion of high standards—for children’s programming and for television in general—was highlighted by his now-famous testimony before Congress in 1969 advocating against proposed budget cuts to public television. The committee was so moved by his simple, genuine, and powerful plea that the budget was increased for the following year.
Although production on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ended in 2000, many PBS stations continue to broadcast the series for a new generation of children to discover. Today, young viewers also get to “visit with” Daniel Tiger (son of the beloved puppet from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the animated spin-off, which delves into many of the same important topics Rogers did.
Today’s stop-motion, animated video Doodle celebrating Mister Rogers was created in collaboration with Fred Rogers Productions, The Fred Rogers Center, and BixPix Entertainment. Set to the iconic opening song of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor"), the Doodle aims to be a reminder of the nurturing, caring, and whimsy that made the show feel like a “television visit” between Mister Rogers and his young viewers. Everyone was welcome in this Neighborhood. Through his honest words, thoughtful songs, and imaginative Neighborhood of Make-Believe stories, Mister Rogers took us by the hand, helping us feel good about who we are. He encouraged us to find positive ways to deal with our feelings, to treat others with respect and kindness, and to appreciate the world around us.
-Hedda Sharapan, Child Development Consultant, Fred Rogers Productions
Special thanks to Joanne Rogers, wife of Fred Rogers, for her support of this project. Below, Joanne shares her thoughts on the Doodle:
“I’m so thrilled that Google is celebrating Fred and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with this charming tribute.This stroll through the Neighborhood is delightful, and Fred’s gentle kindness is beautifully captured in the Doodle.”
Explore the life and legacy of Fred Rogers by visiting Google Arts & Culture.
Early concepts & behind-the-scenes pics
Early Storyboard & Character Concepts
Behind-the scenes of the puppets production
Behind-the scenes of the stop-motion animation
Directors: Melissa Crowton, Olivia Huynh
Executive Producer: My-Linh Le
Marketing, partnerships, & licensing: Perla Campos, Madeline Belliveau, Carlos Diaz
Art Support: Lydia Nichols
Doodle team leads: Jessica Yu, Brian Kaas
Producer Matthew Cuny
Producer Jodi Downs
Director Drew Hodges
HR Andi Copley
Accountant Sarah Morse
PA Shawn Mullarkey
Director of Photography Jeff Gardner
Motion Control Operator Ian Barrett
Lead Lighting & Camera Tech Charles Corbin
Gaffer Anthony Doublin
Production Designer Nancy Parczyk
Art Director Jeff Bartlett White
Model Maker Ben Record
Model Maker Nellie Veitenheimer
Model Maker Fernando Rosendo
Painter Melody Palisoc
Painter Abigail Beasley
Asst. Painter / Model Maker Maria Salehi
Intern Lizzy Hogenson
Lead Puppet Fabricator Becky Van Cleve
Sculptor Hiroe Goto
Puppet Fabricator Yizhou Li
Puppet Fabricator Cami Kwan
Puppet Fabricator Zoe Serbin
Puppet Painter Robyn Yannoukos
Costume Designer Robyn Simms-Johnson
Animator Yizhou Li
Animator Jen Prokopowicz
Editor Shea Formaneck
VFX Supervisor Amanda Goad
VFX Artist Nick Oberlander
Sound Designer John Jackson, Audio Gadgets
Post House Kappa Studios
Finishing Artist Donald Freeman C.S.I.