The Neighborhood Archive Forum

Miscellaneous => Miscellaneous Mister Rogers Topics => Topic started by: HenriettaPussycat on May 29, 2012, 05:04:17 PM

Title: Relationship with sons
Post by: HenriettaPussycat on May 29, 2012, 05:04:17 PM
A friend of my mom's who knew one of Fred's sons in college claimed that his son did not have a good relationship with his father, at least, not at the time that she knew him.  I did some digging on the internet and found an article from People magazine from 1978 that verifies that Fred's relationship with his son Jim was strained.  Jim is presumably the son this woman spoke of, since the article mentions that he was in college at the time of writing, which was around the time that this woman would have been in college.  Here is a link to the article: <,,20070844,00.html (,,20070844,00.html)>

Given what I know of Fred, including his devotion of his entire life to serving children, it's difficult for me to believe that his relationship with one of his own sons would be strained.  Yet, upon reflection, none of the biographical books or films focusing on him make any mention of either son, though his wife is mentioned occasionally.  Does anyone know anything about Fred's relationship with his sons since 1978?

My intention here is not to "dig up dirt" on Fred and his family; on the contrary, I'm hopeful that someone can provide evidence that this was simply an awkward stage in their relationship that they later surpassed.  But I am curious about the absence of his sons in the biographical materials, given his focus on children and family in his professional life.

This is my first post in the forum, so I apologize in advance if this post is inappropriately personal.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: mitsguy2001 on May 29, 2012, 07:03:22 PM
That is surprising to hear.  Didn't Jim appear onn one of the later episodes?  I'm guessing that they later repaired their relationship, but I honestly do not know.  I know that Betty had posted that Fred was a workaholic.  That could have affected his relationship with his sons.  Interestingly, the song "Wishes Don't Make Things Come True" implies that Fred's father was a workaholic.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: HenriettaPussycat on May 29, 2012, 10:34:35 PM
Your comment about "Wishes don't make things come true" is interesting.  I'd heard the song on the show before, but I'd never looked at the lyrics carefully.  I see your point.

Which episode was Jim on?  I've never seen an episode with either of his sons as live actors (though I have seen one with footage of them at Nantucket), but then again, I haven't seen all of the episodes.

Given the amount of care that Fred took when writing and filming each show, I can believe that he was a workaholic.  However, given his focus on family values, and his feelings about his father that you referred to, it's difficult for me to believe that he would have favored his work at the expense of his family life with his sons.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: MrRogers143 on May 30, 2012, 09:07:49 AM
Jim was on episode 1623. He visited his dad with his son Alex Rogers.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: mitsguy2001 on May 30, 2012, 11:16:06 AM
Another interesting thing about that article is that it mentions Fred being a vegetarian, and it was written in 1978.  I know that in Episode 1455, from 1975, Johnny Costa's mother gives Fred a meat pie.  So I'm guesing Fred became a vegetarian sometime between 1975 and 1978.  I have also read that David Newell is a vegetarian.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: HenriettaPussycat on May 30, 2012, 09:25:50 PM
Thanks for pointing out the episode with Jim and Alex.  This at least indicates that they weren't estranged, as of 1990.  I still wonder what their relationship was really like at that point, though.

Your observation about the time period when Fred became a vegetarian is astute.  I'd heard about the episode with the meat pie, but I wasn't sure which one it was, or when it aired.  However, I'd advise a word of caution with regard to the People article, since I know that they got at least one major fact wrong.  Based on another source (the film Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor, if I recall correctly), Fred didn't leave Dartmouth for Rollins because of Joanne; they met when Fred came to Rollins.  However, given independent verification that Fred was a vegetarian for many years, the People article's assertion is likely true.

I believe I'd also heard that David Newell is a vegetarian, though I don't remember the source.  I want to say that it was the film Speedy Delivery, but I don't have a distinct memory of hearing that fact from the film, so it very well may have been one of the many other articles that I've read.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: mitsguy2001 on May 30, 2012, 09:37:23 PM
I have heard many times that Fred was a vegetarian, so that was likely true.

As for David Newell: I don't remember, but I think I read that written by somebody who had lunch with him a few years ago.

I wonder what other cast members are or were vegetarians.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: mitsguy2001 on May 31, 2012, 11:15:29 AM
Just a thought: I wonder if maybe Jim was bullied in school, because his father was Mr. Rogers, and maybe that caused Jim to want to seperate himself from his father.  I think we agreed in another thread (which went completely off topic) that perhaps Fred was not the best person to teach kids how to handle being bullied, so maybe he wasn't able to help his son as much as he would have liked.

About Fred being a workaholic but not wanting to sacrifice family life: I am sure that Fred wanted a balance in his life.  But, unfortunately, such a balance is very difficult to achieve.
Title: Re: Relationship with sons
Post by: Neighborhood Archive on May 31, 2012, 02:38:50 PM
While the initial question brought up on this thread wasn't done so in order to dig up dirt on Fred Rogers and his family, I think this thread is going down a path that I don't want the Neighborhood Archive to be a part of.

I don't think anyone is in a position to speculate about family issues that may or may not have been present.