Before Jim Carrey shows us a sad Mister Rogers, here are the five best TV personalities who made our childhood awesome
From learning physics to rhymes and interesting facts about crocodiles, we have these TV presenters to thank for making television a whole new educational space when growing up.
Jim Carrey is back on TV with Showtime’s 'Kidding,' premiering on September 9. The legendary actor plays a man named Jeff who is better known as Mr. Pickles, and everybody knows the person he is portraying is 'Mister Rogers,' especially after the trailer aired. An official statement about the show reads that Mr. Pickles is “an icon of children’s television, a beacon of kindness and wisdom to America’s impressionable young minds and the parents who grew up with him — who also anchors a multimillion-dollar branding empire. But when Jeff’s family begins to implode, he finds no fairy tale or fable or puppet will guide him through the crisis, which advances faster than his means to cope.”
Here's a quick read on the five greatest children entertainers the world has ever witnessed, and we have to thank them for not only making us laugh and breed a sensible generation but also for aspiring to make the world a better place.
Mister Rogers (1928-2003)
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Earlier this year we re-lived all the good times we had growing up, thanks to the newest Fred McFeely Rogers' documentary 'Won't You Be My Neighbour,' a biography chronicling his life. For nearly 50 years, ever since he got started in the children entertainment industry in 1954, Rogers pioneered an innovative way of learning, a curated program for children. He entered the lives of the children and adults alike through a simple puppeteer act that taught the generation a wise wisdom of kindness and narration on life's ups and downs. Till date, his legacy lives on and with the upcoming Jim Carrey show 'Kidding,' we know for sure that Mister Rogers is unforgettable. With Rogers' longest-running children's TV show, many skeptics did question his humble and friendly nature, but many who knew him, affirm he was the same person on camera as he was without. His real-life neighbor even penned a letter assuring his audience that Mister Rogers was everything we saw on TV and even more. Perhaps, that is the reason why, 15 years after his death, we all still love him dearly.
Ernie Coombs / Mr. Dressup (1927- 2001)
"Keep an open mind and an open heart. Don't take life too seriously - it doesn't last forever, you know. And may I remind you for the last time, keep your crayons sharp, keep your sticky tape untangled and always put the tops back on your markers."
What Mister Rogers was to children in the US, Ernie Coombs was to the Canadian youngsters. Popularly known as 'Mr. Dressup' Coombs along with his puppets, portrayed a gentle and nurturing figure to kids. Born in Lewiston, Maine, Coombs first came to Canada in 1963 to work for the CBC on a precursor to PBS' 'Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood', a show called 'Misterogers', featuring Fred Rogers. Rogers soon acquired the rights for his show from CBC and moved its production to the US, but Coombs stayed in Canada to work on a CBC-TV kids' show called 'Butternut Square,' which aired from 1964 until 1967. After that, the beloved entertainer began working on 'Mr. Dressup,' which debuted on CBC-TV later that same year and the show remained extremely popular with Canadian children until Coombs retired and CBC-TV stopped producing the show in 1996. When he died following a stroke, Canadian actor Albert Schulz made a moving speech about the power of Mr. Dressup. "I have this fantasy in which the entire world sits down for half an hour every morning and watches Mr. Dressup. After a few days, the pundits are talking about a changed world -- a world that has gained its innocence."
Jim Henson (1936-1990)
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending."
James Maury Henson, better known as Jim Henson, coined the word Muppets as a meld of marionettes and puppets. The man behind characters such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster, embarked on a mission to tell mature stories with kid-friendly characters. When Henson was in college, he created a puppet show on a Washington television station with his future wife, Jane Nebel, and developed his first Muppets on a five-minute television program called 'Sam and Friends.' After graduation and bagging roles in TV commercials, Henson built an extraordinary puppet show called 'Sesame Street' in 1969, which reached nationwide popularity. The Children’s Television Workshop’s program set the ground for 'The Muppet Show,' which premiered in 1976 and gained an international audience in over 100 countries. 'The Muppet Show' was soon followed by the motion pictures such as 'The Muppet Movie' (1979), 'The Great Muppet Caper' (1981), and 'The Muppets Take Manhattan' (1984). Prior to his death in 1990, Henson was in negotiations with the Disney Company to sell the rights to the Muppets and the deal was finalized in 2004, years after his death. Also, an experimental filmmaker, Henson was nominated for an Academy Award for his 1965 short-film 'Time Piece.'
Bozo the Clown- Frank Avruch and Bob Bell
"I love my work and enjoy making children laugh. Laughter cannot be imitated. It comes from the heart.”
–Bob Bell, WGN’s Bozo the Clown
Bozo the Clown was played by many actors, but the two who we remember the most are Frank Avruch and Bob Bell. In March this year, Avruch, the actor who played Bozo between 1959 and 1970, passed away at the age of 89. A statement released from his family read; "While it's hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5's Great Entertainment and Boston's Man About Town. Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly." Bob Bell was the original portrayer of the character for Chicago superstation WGN-TV. He died in 1997, a year after he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. The fictional clown was created by a man named Alan W. Livingston back in the 1940s, and was introduced in the US in 1946, and to television in 1949. Its popularity peaked locally in the 1960s as a result of widespread franchising in early television.
Steve Irwin (1962- 2006)
"I have no fear of losing my life - if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it."
Unlike others on the list, Stephen Robert Irwin, did not play with fun and funny characters to be a children's entertainer, well, he played with wild animals and was nicknamed "The Crocodile Hunter." The Australian zookeeper achieved worldwide fame from the television series 'The Crocodile Hunter' that ran for a decade from 1996 till 2007. He did not preach much about life, in fact, he demonstrated. Irwin co-hosted the wildlife documentary series with his wife Terri, and also created similar shows including 'Croc Files' and 'New Breed Vets.' The '90s kids have him to thank for their in-depth knowledge of crocodiles. Irwin died at the age of 44, after being pierced in the heart by a stingray barb while filming an underwater documentary film titled 'Ocean's Deadliest.'