The other night, my friend S and I attended a launch party for a documentary, “Mr. Rogers & Me.” A slight, quirky little hagiography, the movie conveyed, with some charm, the wonderful, weird persona of the gentle children’s-television icon. (Indeed, there’s a posthumous scene that takes place in a church that features a plaque with Rogers’ face haloed in gold.)
Anyway, my friend S said that when she told a colleague that she was going to see a movie about Mr. Rogers, her colleague said, “Oh, I heard he was a perv.”
Oh, dear, I thought, saddened by this mudball wantonly slung at a pure spirit by a dirty mind—and saddened also by the possibility that the dirty mind might have it right. After all, so many mentors of children have turned out to be tormenters. It cast a pall on the evening.
So I did a bit of Googling when I got home, to put my mind at rest. So far as Dr. Google knows, Fred Rogers was the genuine article, a wonderfully odd and thoroughly benign character, likable just the way he was.