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Mr. McFeely, 'Speedy Delivery' Man, to Talk on Mister Rogers' Legacy at Juniata

(Posted February 15, 2010)

David Newell plays Mr. McFeely the deliveryman in a lecture at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in Neff Lecture Hall.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Neither rain, nor snow nor gloom of night will prevent David Newell, the actor renowned for playing deliveryman Mr. McFeely on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," from speaking at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

Newell will speak at Juniata on how we can all "save our neighborhood" and show the 2008 documentary film, "Speedy Delivery," which shows how Newell has used his whimsical television character Mr. McFeely, whose catchphrase was "Speedy Delivery," to honor the memory of Fred Rogers and urge people to work to save their own neighborhoods.

The lecture and film are free and open to the public.

The film "Speedy Delivery" follows Newell around his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pa., and several other locations as he makes public appearances to keep "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in syndication. Newell won the role of McFeely in 1967 and performed as the kindly postman on original episodes through 2003. After the death of host Fred Rogers in 2003, Newell decided to preserve Rogers' legacy by continuing to play his role.

Newell tours the United States as Mr. McFeely, often screening the "Speedy Delivery" film. The film provides a history of the classic children's show and also gives viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at Newell's life, his relationship with Fred Rogers and how Newell works to keep children's programming on the air.

"Working with Fred Rogers was like receiving a master's degree in child development. Fred taught be example and he was subtle -- but suddenly you'd realize that, after working side by side with him, your knowledge base had expanded almost beyond description."
David Newell

When not in character, Newell works as director of public relations for Family Communications, the parent company responsible for producing "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Family Communications also creates programs and projects centering on the emotional and societal development of children. The company also provides training and workshops for people who work with young children and acts as an advocate for issues that affect children.

As the public relations expert for the company, Newell's duties include project promotion, media relations and acting as a liaison to PBS stations.

"Working with Fred Rogers was like receiving a master's degree in child development," Newell says in his Family Communications biographical sketch. "Fred taught be example and he was subtle -- but suddenly you'd realize that, after working side by side with him, your knowledge base had expanded almost beyond description."

Newell's quest to keep the character of Mr. McFeely and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in the public eye, is partly to ensure that the thousands of episodes continue to be a presence on television. The character of Mr. McFeely is named after Fred Rogers's grandfather and works at the Speedy Delivery Messenger Service.

Newell earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Pittsburgh and received his acting training at The Pittsburgh Playhouse and hosted the troupe's children's theater program for a short time.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.