TV Tidbit: The Neighborhood of Make-Believe
From 1968 to 2001, one of PBS’s most-beloved and celebrated shows for kids was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Featuring the kindly Fred Rogers who invited kids to join him in little house for play, learning, and self esteem building, the low-key was a staple in the home of anyone who had children. One of the highlights of the show was when Mr. Rogers would take the models of The Neighborhood of Make-Believe off his kitchen shelf and set them up for an adventure to the colorful little village where puppets and people interacted and everyone learned how to treat each other with love and kindness. It was a special place in all our childhoods, as Mr. Rogers sent us down the trolley tracks (the man had a trolley in his house!) for our daily lesson in fun and play.
Puppet characters included the haughty King Friday XIII who ruled the neighborhood with his wife Queen Sarah Saturday at his side. There was the psychotic museum owner Lady Elaine Fairchild and her spinning Museum-Go-Round. Gentle Daniel Striped Tiger was everyone’s friend. He lived in a giant clock at the far end of the neighborhood. In the central tree/duplex lived the know-it-all X the Owl and his neighbor, the always anxious Henrietta Pussycat. There was also the inventor Cornflake S. Pecially, who presided over his factory where each episode he was cranking out something new, be it rocking chair or dolls. Live-action characters included Lady Aberlin (played by Betty Aberlin), postman Mr. McFeely (David Newell), Handyman Negri (Joe Negri) and Bob Dog (Bob Trow).
Fun Fact: Almost all the original puppet characters in The Neighborhood of Make-Believe were voiced by Fred Rogers. As time went-on and new characters were added, additional performers created those voices.