Fred Rogers Pleaded With ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ Co-Star Not to Come Out as Gay
Francois Clemmons, who is also known as Officer Clemmons on the show, claims he has forgiven the TV favorite for making such suggestion because he could understand what was at stake.
- Apr 27, 2020
AceShowbiz – Fred Rogers apparently begged one of his “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” co-stars to stay quiet about his sexuality because coming out could ruin the children’s TV favorite’s career.
According to Francois Clemmons, who played Officer Clemmons on the show, Fred called him into his office after hearing reports that the star had been spotted at a downtown gay bar.
In his new memoir, the 75-year-old actor says Fred told him, “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.”
Francois told People, “I could have his friendship and fatherly love and relationship forever. But I could have the job only if I stayed in the closet. ‘You must do this Francois,’ he told me, ‘because it threatens my dream.’ “
He says that Fred also told him, “‘The world doesn’t really want to know who you’re sleeping with – especially if it’s a man. You can have it all if you can keep that part out of the limelight.'”
Francois went on to reveal Fred, who was the subject of Tom Hanks‘ 2019 movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood“, also suggested he marry a woman as a ploy to keep his sexuality under wraps, but he insists he’s forgiven the star for being so preoccupied with his private life.
“I understand,” he insisted. “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.”
“Officer Clemmons: A Memoir” is released on 5 May.
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