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.”
There was a sweet significance to the number 143 for the couple.
“It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and four letters to say ‘love’ and three letters to say ‘you,'” Fred 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,” Fred explains that he’s a very calm man and doesn’t raise his voice at his wife during disagreements.
Decades later, Mr. Rogers is still teaching us to be better humans — and how it all starts and ends with being kind to one another.
“You Are My Friend,” a biopic about Fred Rogers’ life is scheduled for release in October 2019. The role of the TV icon will be played by none other than Tom Hanks. No doubt Hanks is up for the task, and when you see the resemblance between the two men, it seems that Hanks’ portrayal will be quite convincing.
A physical resemblance isn’t the only thing these two beloved men have in common. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been happily married for over 30 years. Here’s his advice on maintaining marital bliss:
To tide you over until the movie comes out, check out our list of 15 facts you never knew about Fred Rogers. For instance, did you know he was a vegetarian? Or that he has an asteroid named after him? And No. 6 on the list is pretty surprising, too!