If you visit the search engine site Google today, you may see a familiar face — albeit, one that is animated.
Fred Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers from his eponymous public television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was honored by Google on Friday by having a doodle stop-motion animated video featured on the site’s main page. The first episode of the program aired on this date in 1967, reports USA TODAY.
The show was an immediate hit and made its nationwide debut one year later, as a previous reporting from Inquisitr detailed.
The stop-motion video shows Rogers as he makes his way through his neighborhood on the way to his home. The familiar theme song music from the show is played throughout, with the character on-screen, voiced by a recording of Rogers himself, singing along.
Rogers greets many children on his way to his home, draws a fish on a giant tank in the street, and even rides a trolley into the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” an imaginary kingdom that was often featured on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes. King Friday the XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, and Daniel Tiger, characters who Rogers puppeteered himself on the program, also make appearances in the video.
“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,” Hedda Sharapan, child development consultant at Fred Rogers Productions, said. “Everyone was welcome in this Neighborhood.”
At the end of the video, Rogers finally makes it to his home. The camera does a slow zoom-out, which reveals the children in the neighborhood that he met on his journey watching him on a television screen — driving home the point Sharapan made, that watching the program felt like, for many viewers, being invited into Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood itself.
“You help to make each day a special day by just your being yourself,” Rogers tells the children watching him onscreen. “There’s nobody else in the whole world who’s exactly like you, and people can like you exactly as you are.”
Rogers tried every day to make sure children felt confident about themselves and learned to appreciate who they were. But as Morgan Neville, the director of a Rogers-themed documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, pointed out, Rogers himself regularly questioned his own abilities.
“He was a human who had insecurities and doubts and made mistakes,” Neville said. “And, really, throughout his entire life, from his earliest days to his deathbed, was wondering if he had done enough.”
The last episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was produced in 2000, but many PBS stations across the nation continued to air re-runs of the program long after the last episode aired. Fred Rogers died in 2003