The set of Mister Rogers' television house
The set of Mister Rogers' television house

24 Rare Photos From Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

The set of Mister Rogers' television house
The set of Mister Rogers' television house

In the years I have spent researching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from a pop culture perspective and building the Neighborhood Archive—an online resource for all things Mister Rogers—I have always enjoyed hearing from former cast and crew members who contributed to the Neighborhood in their own unique ways.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet David Smith—Neighborhood's Assistant Art Director throughout the early 1970s. While Mr. Smith had my full attention as he shared stories of living in Pittsburgh and working on the set of the Neighborhood during its "vintage" days (a time he shared with fellow crew member and future Hollywood star, Michael Keaton), he absolutely caught me off-guard when he sent me home with a collection of approximately 100 photographs and 35mm slides in addition to some of his original artwork used as props over four decades ago. Although a few of the photographs were eventually used for promotional purposes, a good majority were behind-the-scenes snapshots likely not seen in decades.

Here are 24 of the best shots from this collection.

Lady Aberlin (Betty Aberlin), Daniel Striped Tiger, and Fred Rogers

Don Brockett and Fred Rogers. "Potato Bugs and Cows" - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1300 (1973). Photo by Sandy Speiser.

David Smith (right) working on the model Neighborhood used during each episode's opening, closing, and transitions.

Fred Rogers. Photo by Sandy Speiser.

Bill "W.P." Barker with Dr. Bill and Elsie Jean Platypus.

Cast and Crew. "Potato Bugs and Cows" - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1300 (1973).

Fred Rogers with his son. Photo by Sandy Speiser.

Mrs. McFeely (Betsy Nadas) and Mr. McFeely (David Newell) in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Jack Guest (Art Director), David Smith, and a carpenter working on King Friday's royal plane.

Betty Aberlin.

Lady Aberlin (Betty Aberlin), Mr. McFeely (David Newell), and Francois Clemmons.

Fred Rogers with Barry and Garry Nelson in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. The Nelsons played basketball for Pittsburgh's Duquesne University from 1968-1971. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1173 (1971).

Fred Rogers. Photo by Sandy Speiser.

David Smith under the "potato washer-dryer-sorter-dumper" prop.

Cast and Crew. "The Snow People" - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1245 (1972).

Francois Clemmons and Betty Aberlin.

Crew members including David Smith (center, right) and Michael Keaton (center, left). "Potato Bugs and Cows"- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1300 (1973). Photo by Sandy Speiser.

Yoshi Ito and Francois Clemmons. "The Snow People" - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1245 (1972).

Betty Aberlin.

Robert Troll (Bob Trow) and Mr. McFeely (David Newell). Photo by Sandy Speiser.

Johnny Costa (Music Director), Betty Aberlin, and Audrey Roth. "Potato Bugs and Cows" - Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - Episode 1300 (1973). Photo by Sandy Speiser.

The Flying Zookeeni Brothers Daredevil Circus comprised of crew members such as David Smith (far right) and Michael Keaton (third from right).

The Neighborhood of Make-Believe set.

The set of Mister Rogers' television house.

For a full summary of my conversation with David M. Smith—including the complete collection of photographs, details on his artistic props, and a recorded interview—visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Live Smarter
8 Pro Tips for Taking Incredible Pictures of Your Pets

Thanks to the internet, owning a photogenic pet is now a viable career option. Just ask Theron Humphrey, dog-dad to Maddie the coonhound and the photographer behind the Instagram account This Wild Idea. He gained online fame by traveling across the country and sharing photographs of his dog along the way. But Maddie’s impressive modeling skills aren’t the only key to his success; Humphrey has also mastered some essential photography tricks that even the most casual smartphone photographer can use to make their pet look like a social media star.


Based on her Instagram presence, you’d guess Maddie is either in the middle of a road trip or a scenic hike at any given time. That’s no accident: At a pet photography workshop hosted by Adobe, Humphrey said he often goes out of his way to get that perfect shot. “You need to keep situating yourself in circumstances to continue making great work,” he said, “even if that means burning a tank of gas and going someplace you’ve never been.”


Dog and owner on a couch.

That being said, it’s important to know your pet’s limits. Is your dog afraid of flying? Then leave him with a pet sitter when you vacation abroad. Does your cat hate the water? Resist the temptation to bring her into the kayak with you on your next camping trip, even if it would make for an adorable photo opportunity. “One thing I think is important with animals is to operate within the parameters they exist in,” Humphrey said. “Don’t go too far outside their comfort zone.”


Not every winning pet photo is the result of a hefty travel budget. You can take professional-looking pictures of your pet at home, as long as you know how to work with the space you’re in. Humphrey recommends looking at every element of the scene you’re shooting in and asking what can be changed. Don’t be shy about moving furniture, adjusting the blinds to achieve the perfect lighting, or changing into a weird outfit that will make your pup’s eyes pop.


Two dogs in outfits.

Ella and Coconut Bean.

Trying to capture glamorous photos of a moving, barking target is a hard job. It’s much easier when you have a human companion to assist you. Another set of hands can hold the camera when you want to be in the picture with your pet, or hold a toy or treat to get your dog’s attention. At the very least, they can take your pet away for a 10-minute play session when you need a break.


The advent of digital cameras, including the kind in your smartphone, was a game-changer for pet photographers. Gone are the days when you needed to be picky about your shots to conserve film. Just set your shutter to burst mode and let your camera do the work capturing every subtle blep and mlem your pet makes. Chances are you’ll have plenty of standout shots on your camera roll from which to choose. From there, your hardest job will be “culling” them, as Humphrey says. He recommends uploading them to a photo organizing app like Adobe Lightroom and reviewing your work in two rounds: The first is for flagging any photo that catches your eye, and the second is for narrowing down that pool into an even smaller group of photos you want to publish. Even then, deciding between two shots taken a fraction of a second apart can be tricky. “When photos are too similar, check the focus,” he said. “That’s often the deciding factor.”


When it comes to capturing the perfect pet photo, an expensive camera is often less important than your cat’s favorite feather toy. The most memorable images often include pets that are engaging with the camera. In order to get your pet to look where you want it to, make sure you're holding something your pet will find interesting in your free hand. If your pet perks up at anything that makes noise, find a squeaky toy. If they’re motivated by food, use their favorite treat to get their attention. Don’t forget to reward them with the treat or the toy after they sit for the photo—that way they’ll know to repeat the behavior next time.


Person with hat taking photo of dog and dog food.

According to Humphrey, your pet’s eye should be the focus of most shots you take. In some cases, you may need to do more to make your pet the focal point of the image, even if that means removing your face from the frame altogether. “If there’s a human in the photo, you want to make them anonymous,” Humphrey said. That means incorporating your hands, legs, or torso into a shot without making yourself the star.


This is the mantra Theron Humphrey repeated throughout his workshop. You can scout out the perfect location and find the perfect accessories, but when you’re shooting with animals you have no choice but to leave room for flexibility. “You have to learn to roll with the mistakes,” Humphrey said. What feels like a hyperactive dog ruining your shot in the moment might turn out to be social media gold when it ends up online.

ESA/Hubble, NASA
Hubble Telescope Image Shows Two Galaxies Colliding 350 Million Light-Years Away
ESA/Hubble, NASA
ESA/Hubble, NASA

Since launching in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured some magnificent images of our corner of the universe, from neighboring planets to distant nebulae. An updated picture released by the European Space Agency shows two galaxies colliding 350 million light-years away, a process the ESA has been tracking for 52 years, Gizmodo reports.

Galaxies are constantly changing shape and creeping through space. When two of these massive networks cross paths, their stellar material begins to intermingle, and they eventually merge into one entity under the force of gravity. In this image depicting two barred spiral galaxies in the Cetus constellation, the two nuclei are still separate, but the explosive merging process has already been set in motion. Long tidal tails—streams of gas, dust, and stars—feather out from the top of the cluster. The bright blue patches indicate "stellar nurseries" where gas and dust stirred together by gravity are producing new stars.

The photograph was first released in 2008, but this latest version has been updated using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). According to an ESA statement, the galaxies "are like a natural experiment played out on a cosmic scale, and by cataloguing them, astronomers can better understand the physical processes that warp spiral and elliptical galaxies into new shapes."

Galactic mergers are a vital part of the evolution of the universe: Even the Milky Way is on course to crash into a neighboring galaxy 4 billion years down the road. But the process, though violent, is slow-moving. It will be millions of years before these two galaxies in Cetus settle down into one.

[h/t Gizmodo]


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