it simply is not true

Mister RogersThere is a story going around, a story that has been going around for some time, that Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was a Navy Seal, and that he wore long sleeves on his television show to hide his tattoos.

The problem with the story is that it simply isn’t true. The story is pervasive enough that the privately-run Navy Seals web site, navyseals.com, devotes a page to debunking the myth. The go-to site for urban legend accuracy checking, snopes.com, offers a long entry debunking various Mr. Rogers myths, including the Navy Seals and tattoo stories. Snopes states:

quoteAlthough he was friendly with the children in his viewing audience and talked to them on their own level, he was most definitely an authority figure on a par with parents and teachers (he was Mister Rogers to them, after all, not “Fred”), and his choice of dress was intended to establish and foster that relationship.

The Wikipedia entry for Fred Rogers describes how he want straight from college to television work. (Not that Wikipedia is to be trusted in every instance, but this entry is well annotated.)

If you need any more proof, check out the movie trailer for the upcoming Fred Rogers documentary. It shows scenes of him in short sleeves playing on the street with youngsters, not to mention a brief moment picturing him underwater in the pool wearing only swim trunks. Not a single tattoo in either case.

This is, perhaps, much ado about nothing, but I am guilty of spreading this urban legend, so I wanted to set the record straight.



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