How Much Mr. Rogers Was Worth When He Died

You can't truly put a price on Mister Rogers. What's the dollar value of making millions of children smile? If you had a nickel for every tear that was shed when Fred Rogers died, perhaps you'd have enough money to cure world poverty a million times over, but you'd be no closer to quantifying his worth. In life, it's far better to be a good person than a big purchaser, and in that sense, the Neighborhood of Make-Believe was more valuable than any penny he ever spent.

Mister Rogers helped children confront a range of complex emotions, motivations, and major events using a profoundly simple puppet show. Whether he was helping kids make sense of Robert Kennedy's assassination, addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation during the Cold War, or just trying to help kids process anger, Rogers made invaluable contributions to a world where the feelings of children are far too often undervalued. Even so, money was part of that world and helped make Mister Rogers' show possible. So you might wonder how much money he had when his priceless life reached its end.

The neighborhood of making money

No one goes into public television looking to match bank accounts with Warren Buffet. In fact, the most money Mister Rogers made in his career wasn't for himself but for PBS. Per the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in 1969, the Nixon administration planned to slash federal funding for public television in half, reducing it from $20 million to $10 million. So Mister Rogers went to bat for viewers like you. Though his show was in its infancy — about a year old, according to News Channel 5 in Nashville – he already recognized how important his program and others were for children: "I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health." 

The whole budget for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was just $6,000, the cost of "less than two minutes of cartoons." His impassioned plea helped public television get its $20 million. 

Obviously, Rogers didn't rake in mountains of cash from his show, but toward the end of his life he held the title of Chief Executive of the Family Communications production company, netting a salary of $139,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth. When he died his net worth was an estimated $3 million, and millions more neighborly friends.