Fred Rogers, better known as simply Mister Rogers, entered WQED’s studio in Pittsburgh to record the first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood 51 years ago this Friday, on Sept. 21, 1967. Google is celebrating Mister Rogers‘ anniversary with an animated Doodle of the children’s television host, showing Mister Rogers wandering through his neighborhood to the tune of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
Throughout the stop-motion video, a sculpted Mister Rogers cheers up a diverse group of children, singing and taking them for a ride on the red neighborhood trolley.
“You have to make each day a special day, by just your being yourself,” says the animated Mister Rogers, wearing one of his iconic sweaters. “There’s nobody else in the whole world whose exactly like you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”
Mister Rogers aimed to teach children the value of being sensitive, honest, and open through his television show. Google writes that Rogers wore many hats, “serving as creator, host, producer, script writer, composer, lyricist, and main puppeteer for almost 900 programs.” While production of the show ended in 2000, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood reruns continue to be aired on some PBS stations.
“I’m so thrilled that Google is celebrating Fred and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with this charming tribute,” said Rogers’ wife, Joanne, in a statement. “This stroll through the Neighborhood is delightful, and Fred’s gentle kindness is beautifully captured in the Doodle.”
Mister Rogers himself died in 2003, but is remembered as a warm, honest individual. In 1969, he addressed Congress to argue against proposed cuts to PBS funding; Rogers’ testimony was so successful the station’s budget was actually increased the following year.
This year, Rogers was memorialized in the documentary film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Another film on the television host’s life, You Are My Friend, stars Tom Hanks as Rogers, and is set for release next year.