Here's a first-class piece of news: The actor who played delivery man Mr. McFeely on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" has a son who's ... wait for it ... a postal carrier!
Not only that, Alex Newell, the son in question, just appeared this week in a special cameo performance on "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!"
Fans of "Mister Rogers'" will remember David Newell's Mr. McFeely as a cheerful "Speedy Delivery" man, and played the role starting in 1968. David, 82, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Rogers was the first person to visit his wife after the birth of all three of their children, which means Alex first met the legendary kids' show host when he was just two days old.
And it was always just very normal to be immersed in the "Neighborhood," Alex says in the article. "When you're living around it, you don't realize how special and kind of cool it is. It was a lot of days being on set and in the offices and going to appearances with my dad and meeting a lot of interesting and famous people."
So it's no surprise that Alex ended up pursing entertainment as a career; he worked in independent film and on reality shows like "Crash Course" in Los Angeles, but ended up moving back to Pittsburgh. Now engaged and a dad to Ashton, 1, he decided to settle into a more stable job — and along came the U.S. Postal Service.
"How ironic he would be a delivery/postal worker, and I've been pretending to be one for over 40 years," laughs David.
These days, Alex delivers in the Squirrel Hill route in Pittsburgh, but he's not too far from his acting interests: He appeared in a cameo role on "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," the PBS Kids' series that stars Mr. Rogers' puppet Daniel in an animated version, this week. His role? Playing a mail carrier who helped a little girl's gift for a friend got there safely. (There's even an Easter Egg in the episode: He delivers the package to house No. 143, which meant "I love you" to Fred Rogers.)
But for the most part, Alex is still out there bringing the real-life mail to real-life people; apparently he's told frequently, "You were born for this."
"I'm so proud of him and his family," says David. "It does my heart good to go over there and see Alex taking such an interest in his son. ... Fred would be so delighted to know that too, because that’s exactly what Fred was doing with the program: encouraging family communication.”
As for Alex, he's happy to "carry on the legacy" of Fred Rogers' mission — and he got a chance to honor his dad's role in the pantheon. To him, his father was the greatest teacher of all.
"Thank you for being the greatest role model there is," Alex says. "Besides Mister Rogers."