Mr. Rogers’ Wife, Joanne Rogers, Opens Up About Falling In Love With Him
Audiences and critics have fallen in love with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the new documentary about beloved children’s icon Fred Rogers. After all, what’s not to love about something that lets us get to know Mr. Rogers even better?
But it’s the late TV icon’s wife, pianist Joanne Rogers, who knew, and loved, the man in the cardigan best. On a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the dedicated philanthropist opened up about their enduring love story.
The couple first met in college in Florida, where Fred instantly caught Joanne’s eye.
“He was different,” she told Fallon. “In his young days, he was lively and full of fun … but he talked about his feelings, and I could talk about my feelings to him, and the things that bothered us … the things that we loved.”
“And don’t you have to have a friendship to fall back on through your married life?” she added. “And we had it for 50 years, so that was nice.”
Rogers also talked about the significance of the number 143 to the television star, and how Fred was attracted to that number throughout his life. Why? Because 143 spelled out “I Love You” in a special code with which he gave a shout-out to his wife.
“It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and four letters to say ‘love’ and three letters to say ‘you,’” Fred Rogers once said. “One hundred and forty-three.”
He even weighed exactly 143 pounds for much of his adult life, and, according to Joanne, he was always happy when he stepped on the scale and saw that number. You can watch the clip of her talking about their marriage and the significance of the number below.
A last word of advice to use in your own relationships?
Well, take it from the man himself: In this 1985 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Rogers explains that he’s a very calm man and doesn’t raise his voice at his wife during disagreements.
Decades later, Fred Rogers is still teaching us to be better humans — and how it all starts and ends with being kind to one another.