mr rogers wife 143
Portrait of American educator and television personality Fred Rogers (1928 - 2003) of the television series 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' circa 1980s. (Photo by Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)

Fred Rogers was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most selfless people to ever live. And while he touched the hearts of millions through his beloved show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” his wife Joanne has further confirmed that he was just as caring and wonderful off-camera as he was on.

Joanne recently sat down with Jimmy Fallon to discuss her late husband’s legacy and the documentary about his life, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” During the interview, she shared that she and Rogers met in college – and she knew immediately that he was different from most men his age in that he was able to communicate his feelings.

“In his young days, he was lively and full of fun, but he talked about his feelings, and I could talk about my feelings to him and the things that bothered us, the things that we loved,” Joanne said. They married on June 9, 1952, and Joanne credits their initial friendship as the foundation of their 50-year marriage.

Joanne also explained the profound reason why “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was so different from any other show of its kind.

While Rogers got his start in television with NBC, once he learned the ins and outs of the business, he moved exclusively to public television. According to Joanne, he made that decision because he didn’t want his TV show to be consumer-based. “He knew he wanted to work with children and he didn’t want children to grow up to be consumers, to be thought of as consumers,” Joanne said.

But perhaps the most touching story Joanne shared was her husband’s obsession with the number 143. As it turns out, even his quirks came from a place of love. “He was very pleased when he would get out of swimming, go and get on the scale: 143. 1 was (the letter) I, 4 was L-O-V-E, 3 was Y-O-U. He had enough love to go around,” Joanne explained.

Fred Rogers was too good for this world, and his legacy will surely be remembered for decades to come.

Will you see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

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