By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Of all the celebrities at last weekend's Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, no one is more beloved than David Newell, best known for playing Speedy Delivery man Mr. McFeely on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Newell about his character and the show. Those watching to catch up on the show can watch episodes at www.pbskids.org.
Q - What intrigued you about the character?
Well, I think what intrigued me about playing Mr. McFeely was that Fred Rogers was using it as a learning tool.
Mr. McFeely was always in a hurry. Fred Rogers wanted to show children that you don't do things right if you rush all the time.
On the show, we would do little films about how people make things. And I loved going around to different factories and show kids about how people make crayons and stickers and different things they would be familiar with.
Q - What was it like working with Fred Rogers?
He was wonderful. He was a genuinely caring man, and really wanted to use television to provide constructive information to families of young children. And I learned so much from him.
He had a degree in child development, along with degrees in philosophy and psychology and in theology and music. So all those disciplines worked together.
What we were doing in television was really benefiting a lot of children. We talked about topics like children's anger, and how they could deal with anger.
Q - How do you feel about being remembered to this day?
It's been very rewarding. When I was working on the show, I felt like I was doing the program in front of four walls in a television studio. You don't have an audience.
And then you get out, and you see the impact that television has. All these generations are here at the expo. We have people in their 50's, 40's, 30's, 20's, and people are watching now.
And Chicago has been a very popular city for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." They really loved it in Chicago.
It's been a pleasure to be here and to meet everybody who grew up with the program.