In Mark 12:31, Jesus instructed us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For more than 30 years, a Presbyterian minister named Fred Rogers (1928-2003) taught preschool children the value of kindness, using their imagination–and loving their neighbor.
Now, the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is going to be the subject of a biographical film starring Tom Hanks.
Variety reports that the biopic You Are My Friend will be directed by Marielle Heller and star Hanks as Rogers. The film will be inspired by a real-life friendship between Rogers and a cynical journalist assigned to write a profile piece. Their relationship changed the journalist’s perspective on life.
“As a mother, I am so inspired by the teachings of Fred Rogers,” Heller told Variety. “And as a human I am in awe of his life’s work. I can’t wait to bring his story to the public.”
Although Rogers was an ordained minister, he was unhappy with what TV offered children–and decided to do something about it. In the 1960s, he started writing and performing youth-oriented shows for local Pittsburgh TV.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was launched in 1968. Over three decades, Fred Rogers became a television fixture–and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Peabody Award, and dozens of honrary degrees.
In 1999, Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. “We all have only one life to live on Earth,” Rogers said at the ceremony. “And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life, or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”
Fred Rogers inducted into the TV Hall of Fame
“Fred Rogers enriched our lives for three decades on PBS,” PBS’s then-CEO Pat Mitchell said on the occasion of Rogers’ death in 2003. “We are grateful that, through Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood programs, he will continue to do so. Fred Rogers is a man who truly made the world a better place.”