Today I Learned …

George Romero, famous for his Living Dead zombie movie franchise, also made videos for Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

When Romero got out of college, he and a few friends started a movie company called The Latent Image, and billed themselves as “Producers of Industrial Films and Television Commercials.” Some of Romero’s earliest jobs were short films commissioned by the show, shown on Picture Picture: “Things With Wheels”, “Things That Feel Soft”, and “How Light Bulbs Are Manufactured”. (Romero still jokes that the scariest film he ever made was “Mr. Rogers Gets A Tonsillectomy.”) With the experience he got on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Romero scraped up $114,000 to make Night of the Living Dead, helped by volunteers and free entrails from a local butcher shop. He really wanted Betty Aberlin, the human actress in the Land of Make-Believe, to play Barbara, the lead in Night of the Living Dead, but Mr. Rogers put his foot down and said NO. (And by the way, Mr. Rogers saw Night of the Living Dead — and loved it.) (From Kindness and Wonder: Why Mr. Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever, by Gavin Edwards.)

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