Officer Clemmons / François Clemmons

Blowing bubbles with Daniel (1980)
Blowing bubbles with Daniel (1980)
Lady Elaine doesn’t want Officer Clemmons to go (1970)
Officer Clemmons sings “Then your Heart is Full of Love” (1984)

Officer Clemmons, the friendly neighborhood policeman, played by François Clemmons, trained as a classical opera singer. 


In contrast to most of the real neighbors who were happy to take on roles that were closely aligned to their interests, François was taken aback when he first learned Fred Rogers wanted him to play a policeman. It was the late 1960’s, and as an African-American growing up in the inner-city, he did not see policemen in a positive light. But he consented when Fred Rogers promised he would have many opportunities to sing on the program – and at the same time he would be making a statement to young children that there are police officers who are kind and friendly, contributing to their sense of safety and security.


Did you know?

Officer Clemmons was one of the first recurring roles for an African American on children’s television. In the midst of the civil rights movement, Mister Rogers and Officer Clemmons made an intentional statement on inclusivity. At a time when some public pools prohibited African-American swimmers, Mister Rogers invited his friend Officer Clemmons to cool his feet alongside his own in a small wading pool.


His music studio

In addition to his role as Officer Clemmons, François is the proprietor of a music studio where he often gives vocal lessons or sings along with special guests and neighbors. 


In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, Officer Clemmons main work is to serve the kingdom as a police officer. At opera times he has taken on a wide variety of roles as a photographer, a king, a commodore, even a porpoise.


As he grew in his own musical career, François Clemmons “retired” from the Neighborhood police force and on return visits he played a choir director and a singer.