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Something Wonderful: Mister Rogers Robert F Kennedy Assassination Special

Release Date: 1968 In response to Robert Kennedy’s assassination, Fred Rogers produced this primetime special [Not a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episode] to help parents with this difficult tragedy and to give them ways to talk with their children about tragic events in the news.

Rogers, alarmed that America’s children were being exposed to unfiltered descriptions and images of the shocking event, had stayed up late to write it, with the goal of helping parents understand some of the emotions their children might be experiencing in the aftermath:

I’ve been terribly concerned about the graphic display of violence which the mass media has been showing recently. And I plead for your protection and support of your young children. There is just so much that a very young child can take without it being overwhelming.  Open Culture

Today, with America’s current celluloid sweetheart — aka Tom Hanks — giving us his impressions of this actual “gentle”man it’s important to get a take on the original and not to be duplicated Mr. Rogers.

This clip showcases the casual talent, deep empathy, and natural beauty of Betty Aberlin (aka Lady Aberlin).

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Rick December 2, 2019, 1:51 PM

    I expect this particular show did more damage then good. Kids who watched Midter Rogers had no idea who Robert Kennedy was or what happened to him. Nor did they care.

  • Vanderleun December 2, 2019, 3:55 PM

    I’m sorry. I wasn’t clear enough. This was a special made and shown in prime time on PBS for the parents as a hint of how to handle the national news for children that noticed.

  • Gary December 2, 2019, 8:04 PM

    simply real…thanks for sharing

  • Rob De Witt December 2, 2019, 9:23 PM

    Unfortunately, once again being beautiful doesn’t preclude being a guilt-monger. From her wiki:

    As a contribution to the literary web site “Fresh Yarn”, Aberlin’s essay The Blonding of America was published in 2005. In the essay she comments on privilege and physical appearance. The point of departure for her reflection is the purchase of a blonde wig to hide her first gray hairs. Wearing the wig, Aberlin is aware of how it erases racial or ethnic features and how her new look evokes a more glamorous feminine stereotype. She observes how this change to her appearance effects a change of consciousness: “I put [the wig] on, and I don’t even notice the homeless anymore.” She concludes the essay: “Later on that evening, I saw a yellow school bus, filled with Chasidim. On the sooty back window of the bus, someone had drawn a swastika. I’ll tell you…it certainly feels a little safer….being blonde.”

  • Annie Rose December 3, 2019, 6:25 AM

    Adults often have no idea what young children are noticing around them. I have very strong memories of a darkened room, our black and white tv turned on in the middle of the day (this never happened, so I was surprised), a very serious man talking in a worried voice on tv, and my mom softly crying behind me as I played on the floor. I asked about it when I was much older and discovered that on that day long ago JFK had been assassinated. I was three years old. Did I understand what was happening? No. But I knew my mommy was very very sad and she wouldn’t talk much with me. I thought she was very mad at me and I remember being very scared.
    My own three year old had her PBS kids show interrupted by scenes of our troops invading Kuwait. She called out to me in the kitchen “Mommy there’s fireworks on tv” and I saw mortars exploding around our tanks. I couldn’t get to the tv fast enough to put on a video instead. Weeks of video watching and book reading followed as I tried to preserve her innocence a little longer from knowing about the horrors of war. I had to deal years later with angry grandparents, who selfishly wanted to watch the OJ trial with it’s bloody glove while visiting us, rather than play with their grandchildren, and resented me for keeping the tv off. But my favorite media moment was when my 4th grader asked me what a blow job was, because all the kids on the playground at school said the President got one. Thank you President Clinton. How fabulous to have to discuss the birds and the bees with a 9 year old and include that particular sex act in the equation. Later, my children had to cope with the graphic images of 9-11 that teachers played at school for my kindergartner to see on the day it happened, and for days after. I’ve always felt that my children’s’ innocence and childhood were stolen from them. Mr. Rogers’ message was that we need to protect our children from adult issues and when we can’t, we need to handle them together as a a family. True words of wisdom that in our day of instant media are often forgotten by parents.

  • Jack December 3, 2019, 6:44 AM

    I’m going with Robb for the win on this one.

  • Vanderleun December 3, 2019, 7:04 AM

    Nah. I’m with Annie Rose on this one.

  • ghostsniper December 3, 2019, 7:31 AM

    Turn the gd thing off.
    Laziness, once again, has turned the TV into parents but it is being taken over by tablets and cellphones. I was 13 when RFK was killed and barely remember it, and what I do remember was from stuff at school. TV was a very rare thing at our house, mostly in the evenings, and it seemed to be mostly family oriented stuff. News? Rarely. That stuff came on at suppertime and of course the TV was not on at that time. My mother crying because of RFK getting killed? Please. The planet has been hijacked by emotional basket cases. The public school system has been causing unfathomable damage for a very long time and very few people care, afterall, it makes a pretty good day care center for lazy, stupid parents.

  • Gordon Scott December 3, 2019, 2:30 PM

    I think it’s a good piece. 1968 was a crazy year. MLK had been shot a couple of months before. The Tet offensive was just past. Riots were happening regularly. Sometimes a kid just needs to hear an adult say that “yes, bad things do happen. I will work very hard to keep them from happening to you.”

    If y’all remember Jacob Wetterling, his disappearance was on the news constantly, for months, and it was revisited every year for folks in the upper midwest. About 4 years after he vanished, my stepdaughter, who was a few years younger than Jacob when he disappeared, asked me, “Jacob’s not coming back, is he?”

    I told her no, he wasn’t. She nodded, and was quiet for a while.

  • Anonymous December 3, 2019, 5:51 PM

    There is a world of difference between the comments of Annie Rose, with whom I agree, and those of Aberlin who is intimating that blonde or light hair (in her case a blonde wig and for a short while) disguised her ethnicity and caused her to fail to see the down and out of society…..just like all of the other blind, thoughtless and uncaring fair haired souls (Gentiles), whom she (ostensibly) loathes and who, she seems to assume, slip through time and life untouched by the great evils…including those of the Nazis.

    It’s odd to me though that while everyone agrees that the Goy and Gentile Nazis are some seriously vile bastards hardly anyone from the Jewish camp is willing to make a comment about the Marx inspired Bolsheviks who later became the Communists and who were, in large measure, Jews.

    Most people are aware of the Communists contributions to society and the world at large and the Nazis pale in comparison to those assholes. I wonder how “safe” Aberlin would feel among that crowd with her blonde wig?

  • gwbnyc December 3, 2019, 7:42 PM

    Betty is an old acquaintance of mine, and as illustrated, of the greatest kindness.

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