Mr. Rogers' tattoos are a highly debated topic, but what is the truth?
We all remember Fred Rogers, the acclaimed television host, author, and producer famed for Mister Rogers Neighborhood's long-running preschool television series.
It's speculated that long sweaters and cardigans were used to cover up Mr. Rogers' tattoos, which apparently date back to darker days in the military.
What is with all the rumors trying to paint Mr. Rogers in a bad light?
Who Was The Man In Colorful Sweaters?
Fred Rogers was born in Pennsylvania in 1928. Everybody thought that he would be a musician from a young age because he harnessed the ability to play a range of different instruments.
His childhood was, however, complicated and plagued full of self-doubt and bullying. He hadn't spoken much about his boyhood, but it's clear to see that he used music to escape brutal daily life.
In 1951 Mr. Rogers graduated from college and immediately began working in television. He got his start behind the scenes and mainly worked on production and program development.
This is part of the reason why Mr. Rogers was so successful as a presenter. Rogers worked both on and off camera, which gave him a unique perspective when it came to developing his show.
Mr. Rogers Was Vegeterian Before It Was Trendy
There are a lot of rumors when it comes to Fred Rogers. He was a mysterious man who led a long and exciting life. After his father died in 1970, Rogers became a pescatarian and later a vegetarian, stating in an interview that he "couldn't eat anything that had a mother."
Adopting veganism well before contemporary recommendations, he went on to become the editor and co-owner of the quirky Vegetarian Times, which served as one of the world's first vegetarian-based media outlets.
As Rogers got progressively more famous throughout the 70s and the 80s, he became more bizarre and reclusive. He struggled with anger, conflict, and self-doubt throughout his entire career, never quite knowing if he'd hit the mark. Before becoming a Presbyterian minister, he also became more overtly religious and studied Catholic mysticism, Judaism, and Buddhism.
This is another reason why many thought that the story of Mr. Rogers' tattoos was fake.
Mr. Rogers' Tattoos And Other Myths
Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence to back up claims that Mr. Rogers' tattoos were real and covered the length of his arms. It's thought that he had no tattoos at all anywhere on his body.
Despite stories being spread at the height of his popularity about military tattoos, no concrete evidence, photographic or otherwise, points to hidden tattoos.
The rumors surfaced not long after Rogers' death in 2003, although it's hard to pinpoint the exact date. The press ran multiple stories about Rogers not being as innocent as he seemed. They were convinced that his "nice guy" television persona was a coverup for a much darker past.
The press thought that Mr. Rogers' tattoos dated back to his stint as a Navy SEAL. However, it came to light that Mr. Rogers didn't serve in World War II and never even served as an acting member of the United States Army.
Mr. Rogers' tattoos are an urban legend, probably thought up by a 90s spin doctor or one of the big advertising firms. It could have been a way to drum up interest in Rogers after his death or may have been a cheap ploy to sell more newspapers. But, whatever the rumors were, the truth is a lot less fascinating.
We Need More People Like Mr. Rogers
Mr. Rogers was a pioneer in children's television. Not only did he enlighten his audience each week by tackling many complex social issues, but he also changed the way that television was produced and took a much more active role in production than the average presenter.
He pioneered the use of puppets and discussed important topics covering everything from divorce, the environment, and social class. He was loved by both parents and children alike, which catapulted him to the height of his fame in the late 80s.
The rumor about Mr. Rogers' tattoos could not take away his achievements, plain and simple.
Being Nice Meant Being Misunderstood
Expectations weigh heavily on the hearts of those that have influence, and Mr. Rogers knew it all too well. His squeaky clean image might have had something to do with the anxiety and depression that he suffered from throughout his long career.
It wasn't always apparent, and neither was it meant to be, but Mr. Rogers' television persona directly impacted his mental health.
He wasn't allowed the same simple freedoms as others and was always expected to be his chirpy self on and off the camera. Inevitably, the expectations became too much, and he looked visibly tired and worn out in later episodes of his famous television series.
Mr. Rogers' Tattoos Were Not Genuine But His Legacy Is
Despite all the rumors, Mr. Rogers is still remembered as a modest man with a simple goal. He wanted to inform and entertain the next generation of young people so that they would grow up and make the right decisions in later life.
Rogers was an extremely generous man, and while he might not be as squeaky clean as his television persona was in real life, he was undoubtedly a good man.
Mr. Rogers has always had an affinity for helping others. His love of teaching, communicating, and problem-solving has cemented him as a cultural icon who will be remembered for many generations to come. He released numerous self-help books geared towards both adults and children.
How anyone thought that Mr. Rogers' tattoos (or lack of them) would harm his legacy is beyond us.
The double Daytime Emmy-Award winner wrote in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember:
"I hope you're proud of yourself for the times you've said 'yes,' when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to somebody else."