Fred Rogers Said Something Shocking To A Former Mister Rogers Actor
For the world, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame is an ideal role model. However, according to one former actor of the show, he advised him to stay in the closet and hide his sexuality.
Although Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a children’s TV show, it is watched by all ages
In 1962, Mister Rogers, an educational show for children, debuted on CBC Television. Created and hosted by Fred Rogers, the show was first of its kind where the host would address the viewers directly. During the half-hour episode, the viewers were taken on factory tours, involved in arts and crafts, and musical activities. Fred Rogers would also interview people from all walks of life like bakers, musicians, mechanics, etc. Among many characters and actors involved in the show, was Francois Clemmons. While he was a police officer, Clemmons was also trained as an opera singer. For 25 years, he played Officer Clemmons on the show’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment.
Recently, Clemmons claimed that Fred Rogers told him to hide his sexuality and marry a woman
In a recent interview, Francois Clemmons has come forward with a shocking conversation between him and Fred Rogers. According to Clemmons, Rogers was the spiritual love of his life. However, Fred Rogers encouraged him to not come out as gay. While recalling the conversation, Clemmons said:
Rogers said, “Franc, you have talents and gifts that set you apart and above the crowd. Someone has informed us that you were seen at the local gay bar downtown. Now, I want you to know, Franc, that if you’re gay, it doesn’t matter to me at all. Whatever you say and do is fine with me, but if you’re going to be on the show as an important member of the Neighborhood, you can’t be out as gay.”
Furthermore, Clemmons said:
“The man who was killing me had also saved me. He was my executioner and deliverer. But, at the same time, I knew that he would know how to comfort me. I didn’t have another mother or father to comfort me…Had no one to go and be a boy with. I was just vulnerable. He got in a few slaps, some tough love, a good spanking. But I was not kicked out of the family.”
On Fred Rogers advice, Clemmons married La-Tanya Mae Sheridan. However, the couple is divorced now and Clemmons lives openly as a gay man. In the end, Clemmons said:
“Lord have mercy, yes, I forgive him. More than that, I understand. I relied on the fact that this was his dream. He had worked so hard for it. I knew ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ was his whole life.”