For The Love Of Fred

by Sherry Riter in Love,Memory

Some experiences stick in the mind and are never far away from immediate recall. However, other memories disappear in the recesses of the brain, never to surface again after the experience is over. A couple days ago, I wrote about a memory that has stuck in my mind, shaped and molded my personality, but is not a happy thing to remember. It was traumatic and is as vivid a memory today as it was forty years ago.

There is another memory, a pleasant one, that is equally as clear as yesterday. On television, I used to watch NBC Children’s Theater and one particular Saturday there was a special called “For The Love Of Fred with puppets by Paul and Mary Ritts. The story centered around a caterpillar that wanted to become a butterfly, but he did not know how to weave the cocoon. In the course of the show, Fred went to the doctor for help and was told he needed love. With the help of his friends (one looked like a pre-Big Bird), Fred searched for love.

For The Love Of Fred

One of the songs in the show was “What The World Needs Now Is Love” made popular by Jackie DeShannon.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

No not just for some but for everyone.

I was completely consumed by the story. The caterpillar was mesmerizing and had become real in my imagination. At the end, Fred actually turned into a beautiful butterfly.

I cried.

I had never, up to that point, been so caught up in a story or felt overwhelming emotions for an imaginary television character. I lived the story with Fred the caterpillar. He had become real — more real than my paper dolls, Barbie, my Tippy-Toe doll or the tiny, plastic cowboy and Indian figures.

The moral and the caterpillar in “For The Love Of Fred” left an indelible mark on my life in many ways. I always remember the importance and value of being loved and sharing friendship. Neither are frivolous or should be taken for granted. The show taught me that true friends love, support and help whenever needed. I also learned that love, real love, is absolutely beautiful and can work miracles.

For The Love Of Fred

No matter where or when I hear the first notes by the baritone in the song, “What The World Needs Now Is Love“, I immediately think of Fred the caterpillar. I also see the entire moment as if I was hovering above the room of my childhood home — the first color television my parents owned, Dad’s gold chair, the blue couch and Mom doing chores behind me as I sat crossed legged on the floor.

The final moments when Fred breaks out of his cocoon and is a beautiful butterfly has been so etched in my mind that I can distinctly remember the veins in the leaves on the trees where he stretched out his new butterfly wings. Even more than that, I can feel the surge of emotion as I realized that love had helped him become a butterfly.

Fred the caterpillar was determined to fulfill his dream of becoming a butterfly. No obstacle stopped him. Fred remained steadfast in his quest because he knew that his dream was possible as long as he did not give up.

Our lives today are the same as a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. The dream can only become reality if we persevere. We must get up each time we fall because to remain face down in the dirt ensures utter failure. It is easy to remain in the dirt and give up. Having or keeping a positive outlook may feel virtually impossible, but love, friends and doctors can keep us going on the right path toward our dreams.

It’s funny how one moment in our history can change everything. The moments when every sense is heightened, time stands still and then etches it in our memories like a diamond scratching a window pane. Until that moment, life was one way and then after the moment, it is all new — sometimes better and sometimes worse. How we handle the change defines us, so for the love of Fred, do not stop dreaming and believing while on the journey.

I must be willing to give up

what I am

in order to become

what I will be.

Albert Einstein

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stéfan Lévesque August 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

What a wonderful memory. It is so true how moments, be they negative or positive, can be powerful catalysts in our lives. It is up to us to make sure we are propelled in the right direction. Thank you for sharing this story.


2 Anonymous August 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

What a wonderful memory. It is so true how moments, be they negative or positive, can be powerful catalysts in our lives. It is up to us to make sure we are propelled in the right direction. Thank you for sharing this story.


3 Daria @ Mom in Management August 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm

So, I guess you weren't naming your chin whisker Fred like I did… 🙂


4 The Redhead Riter August 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I remembered that part, but it was not "happy" so I didn't include it in the post LOL


5 TJ August 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

As I read this post, I was taken back into your world. I well remember that day. I remember how you cried. Did you forget when he became a butterfly that he forgot who his friends were and that you were so sad because as he flew off all his friends were yelling at him and he paid no attention to them? Unlike Fred we should never forget our friends even when they do not agree with us. I love you Sherry.



6 TJ August 13, 2011 at 1:08 am

I posted your blog on my face book, my cousins read it and thinks it is fabulous



7 Joan August 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Redhead Riter, this is such a moving story that I, too, posted your blog on my Facebook page and tweeted it.

You are a writer (even if you spell it Riter) — and in your writing you share some of your memories with us, making them each brilliant vignettes that make us think and touch our heart!


8 Brunetteblogger August 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Hi – thanks for writing about For The Love of Fred …. I was on here googling – trying to find a copy of it to purchase when I came across your blog on it. I had SAME reaction and same memory – I remember seeing it a few times as a kid and sobbing when Fred flew off as a butterfly. I would love to buy a copy of this. I just went to and to the contact link under Vintage movies and chose "other" from the drop down and requested information on how to get a hold of this movie. I am writing you to see if you will do the same. If they get lots of requests maybe they will go into archives and make some up. Who knows until we try? Maybe you can put a blog request for people to do this? Thanks …..


9 Laura (Goeke) Hess September 15, 2012 at 1:34 am

Will do!


10 Just me April 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

Something made me think of that movie today so I googled it and there was your blog. I was really young when I saw the movie. Honestly, any good positive messages the show may have held were obliterated when Fred callously flew off, abandoning all those who truly loved him. I absolutely hated that story for that reason. It still disturbs me a bit when I think of it. Like the one poster said, it’s something to aspire *not* to be! Great blog though!


11 The Redhead Riter April 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

LOL Thanks Just Me for clicking over to find me!

I remember how upset I was when he flew off too. It was really beyond my understanding at the time how he could leave all the people that loved him. Actually, I still don’t understand that part! LOL It is really strange though how much of an impact that show made me out of all the things that I used to watch on TV. Out of hundreds and hundreds of shows, I STILL remember THAT one!


12 Lise Chenoweth April 26, 2012 at 9:48 am

All of those comments about The Love of Fred on NBC back in1972 warmed my heart…because I produced, directed, was cinematographer, and edited the film. We shot it in Princeton, NJ and Lawrenceville, Paul Ritz wrote the script and he and wife Mary created the life sized hand puppets.

The three of us won the Christopher and Gabriel national TV awards.

Sadly, Paul, Mary, and son Mark are all deceased. Part of their legacy remains in the character of Geoffery the Giraffe, which was bought by a commercial toy manufacturer.

I certainly hope NBC reissues the film digitally. I have a film copy but NBC retains the copyright. It was a great experience creating it.

Avery Chenoweth, Sr.


13 The Redhead Riter May 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm


I was so pleased to get your comment and appreciate you taking the time to write it. Obviously, you know that The Love of Fred touch me so deeply that I’ve never forgotten it. Strangely, the movie will pop into my mind for no apparent reason and I will think about the butterfly at the end. Every single time I’ve ever heard, “What The World Needs Now,” I’ve thought of The Love of Fred.

If it is ever released, I want a copy! Do you know who I could write to get a copy?

Thank you so much for your comment, but most of all for the wonderful show.


14 Steve June 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm

You have to just love the internet! I was speaking to my partner this morning and I mentioned an early childhood memory that I have from about 7 or 8 years old about a Giraffe and some of his friends helping their friend a caterpillar become a butterfly. When the show was over I remember going outside to my mother who was working in the garden and just bawling my head off…I was so wrecked from how moving and beautiful the story was. My mother thought something bad had happened to me…no, just television. It’s funny, I can’t remember what happened 2 days ago, and just have glimpses of my childhood memories, but that one sticks clearly in my mind. I got on the internet today just to see if I could find out the name of the show and stumbled upon your post. I also stumbled on a place where you can supposedly get a copy of the show:
I’d be curious if you do get it, if you feel the same way about it as then. Sometimes our minds play tricks on us…oh and then there’s the fact that we get a little cynical as we grow older! Thanks again for the memory! Steve


15 The Redhead Riter June 25, 2012 at 7:43 am

Thanks Steve. I found that site also, but I don’t think it has been updated in a long time so I’m not sure if they really sell the video any more. The only means of payment they offer is through PayPal, so I just wasn’t willing to take the chance at this point. Let me know if you do! LOL


16 Valerie July 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Thank you so much for writing about The Love of Fred. It made a tremendous impact on me as a child and I’m glad to find out there are others out there!


17 The Redhead Riter July 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm

It was a pleasure, Valerie, to write about this lovely show!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it too.


18 Laura (Goeke) Hess September 15, 2012 at 1:26 am

For the Love of Fred was actually filmed at the farm where I lived in my early childhood. At least part of it was – apparently at some point during filming the cicadas were too loud and I think they had to find a new location to film the rest of it. I was just a baby when it was filmed so I never remember actually seeing it, but I do remember looking at the still photographs in my family’s photo album of the puppets and Mary Ritts. I would love to see it and I’d really love to have a copy of it!
– Laura (Goeke) Hess


19 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Toooooooooo cooooooooool!!!

Do you still have a picture of the house?


20 Philippe Bloch December 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hi- this is actually the second post I have made on this site, for some reason the first one wasn’t posted, which strikes me as curious. Albeit…

I was the narrator for this show. We did win a Christopher and a Gabriel award. Mark Ritts was a teacher in my elementary school in New York City. I was in second grade when he recruited me. The audio was taped in Paul and Mary’s studio in Princeton, New Jersey, where a good part of the “action” of the film took place.

About 10 or 15 years ago, when Mary Ritts was still alive, I contacted her. I have, in addition to the nice letter she wrote me after all those years, a copy of the master VHS from the NBC vault. I had this digitized to DVD last year, it came out fine. I would be willing to seed a copy or two to people on this list, perhaps the proprietor of this blog could contact me. Avery, thanks for all your hard work, perhaps you remember me (I was a snotty seven year old kid). It is a timeless story and I enjoyed being a part of it.

I live in Brookline, Massachusetts. I am glad this show has made its fans over the years. Peace, Philippe


21 Sherry Riter December 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Awesome!!!!! I would LOVE a copy of this show!!! I will send you an email now. 😉


22 Laran Harris May 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I guess this is where most of us land that Googled For the Love of Fred. It left an indelible mark in my memory, as well. I did not see in on T.V. we watched on the reel to reel in grade school. I remember it being 2 big reels and the excitement that I knew it was a long viewing! I have tried to find it from old libraries which loaned them for personal viewing. Those have sadly been phased out.
The story was beautiful and though there is that touch of sadness at the end I have never forgotten the powerful message of friendship displayed with those characters. The fact that friendship can be costly, messy and sometimes painful was real. The movie does not tie up into a perfect ending for those who are sad to loose Fred, it beautifully depicts friendship. Snippets of this film have rolled through my mind since 1979 when I first saw it. If ever I hear the song, What the World Needs Now, I am transported backed to scenes in the movie. I would love to own a copy and encourage NBC to release it digitally.
Thank you for writing about it! I enjoyed reading the comments.


23 Sherry Riter May 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I’m so glad you have the same kind of fond memories as I do and that you found everyone’s comments. 😀

By the way, I just sent you an email


24 Paige May 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Oh my gosh, I am so glad I found someone else who remembers this! I saw this as a small child and It imprinted me forever! I think about it often & have tried to find a copy everywhere. It’s been so long I was starting to doubt how accurate my memories are, but your writing is exactly how I remember! LOVE THiS!! If anyone knows how to find a copy of this. pLEASe email me! Thank you!!


25 Sherry Riter May 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm

You aren’t imagining things. 😀 I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post. By the way, I just sent you an email.


26 lisa perrin June 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Thank goodness for google! I have wracked my brain for years trying to remember the name of this show. We watched it in elementary school some 40 years ago! I adored it. Also, there was another show we watched that parts of have stuck with me over the years, and I don’t know the name of it either. What I can remember was a boy that lost his dog, looked high and low for him only to find him with a blind person. He chose to leave him with that person. Oh, so heart wrenching.
Thank you for writing this piece.
Lisa K. Perrin


27 Sherry Riter June 10, 2013 at 7:36 am

I’m glad you finally have peace with this show like the rest of us! 😉 Tell me more about the other show with the dog because it isn’t jogging any memories.


28 John August 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

My brother and I are corresponding over an ocean about this show from so long ago. I had thought I was the only one in the family who had been so moved by it. Turns out I was wrong. Nice to find your article. Thought it strange that you didn’t focus more on the ending. But that’s been taken up in the comments. As we’re facing some big life decisions, the focus you took is pertinent to us now. Would love to get a copy of this and share it with my brother’s kids… Happy trails, John


29 Sherry Riter October 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

I’m glad you found this post!

I just sent you an email 😀


30 Rob September 21, 2013 at 3:10 am

I would love to show this show to my grand daughter and have been looking for it on and off for many, many years. If someone could please point me to where I could obtain a copy I would appreciate it.


31 Sherry Riter October 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

😀 I just sent you an email Rob! 😀

Have a great day!


32 valerie December 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm

You must be around my age because I still to this day have never forgotten that show, It has haunted me after all these years. I cried all alone while watching Fred and his friends nurse him through his change……….When he became the beautiful butterfly and could not remember his old life……very deep .I was in my early teens and waited to watch that show on Saturday afternoons. I must have been 13 yrs old. I have talked about the story for years because it effected me in such a powerful way I wanted everyone to experience it. I wish there was a way to get a copy? If there is please let me know. The world should not miss out on this beautiful moving story……………………and yes, I do remember the story about the lost dog and the deaf man. This is another beautiful sad story. Thank you, Valerie, I am now in my 50’s Imagine that? It never left me.I have searched for it for my now grown children.


33 Sherry Riter February 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Yes, it is such a wonderful story! I’m so glad you enjoyed sharing the memory!

By the way, for some reason your comment went into the spam and I just found it. Now that you have an approved comment, it shouldn’t happen again. Thanks so much for commenting.


34 mstcraig April 17, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I have enjoyed reading the posts about “For the Love of Fred”. Like most others here, I have done my own share of pulling hair and going crazy trying to remember this show! It’s a shame NBC does not put these kids shows together and release a DVD set- Why let them rot away in a vault? (I’d also like to see the one with the boy and the lost dog, too). I profoundly remember crying my eyes out the rest of the day after seeing Fred turn into a butterfly. The only part of it I can recall in my minds eye nowadays (after 43 years) is just before he turns into a butterfly, one of the other puppets is sitting nearby in a rocking chair and sleeping, I believe? I would very much love to see this again and share it with my 8 year old adopted son- I’ll then be able to die happy!



35 Sherry Riter May 2, 2014 at 7:46 am

Craig, I sent you an email 🙂 and I’m so glad that you enjoyed the movie as much as we did!


36 Jarrell in Georgia May 29, 2014 at 7:06 pm


Thank you for solving a mystery that has haunted me since I was 6! I LOVED this movie as a child and vividly remember Fred turning into a butterfly and flying away. Like everyone else, I remember sobbing… I admit I still get choked up whenever I hear “What the World Needs Now.”

I would love to see this as an adult (I’ll have plenty of tissue handy) some day because I know the story is deeper than I absorbed as a little boy. The lessons of love, support, and loss DID make a lasting impact however; as I experienced each multiple times throughout adulthood, I remembered thinking of this story.

Thank you for bringing back a good memory from childhood, Sherry. Thank you, too, to all who brought the story to life and as a result, impacted my life (and countless others) for good with important lifelong lessons. I would love to know how to get a copy of the DVD if it is still available.

Jarrell in Savannah, GA


37 Sherry Riter May 29, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I’m so glad that you found this post and enjoyed the memories!

By the way, I have written you an email. 🙂


38 Tim Bruns May 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I, too, would love to get a copy of “For the Love of Fred” on DVD. I’ve tried to explain what a moving childhood film it was to my wife (who, upon hearing that Fred did not remember his friends after becoming a butterfly, gasped “That’s a TERRIBLE story!”). I would like the chance to show her the true beauty of Fred’s journey: that no matter who he became, his friends knew – and loved – him…even when it meant letting him go. If anyone out there can help me find a copy, it would be much appreciated.


39 Sherry Riter June 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm

LOL I can see how your wife would think it was a terrible story. I don’t like the letting go thing either. I just sent you an email too. 🙂


40 Russell October 7, 2014 at 1:06 pm

This post is a life saver. I have been racking my brain trying to remember this show. After a wordy Google search I was brought here, thank you. You’ve expressed my exact feelings regarding this show. Now I need to find a way to rewatch it.


41 Sherry Riter October 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I’m so glad you found this post, Russell. I just sent you an email. Enjoy! 🙂


42 Rhonda January 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm

I am so happy to have found this site
My sister and I have been searching for any copy of the beloved movie
If you would be so kind to let me know if there is a way to purchase a copy that would be so great.
My sister was searching on and off for years and I would love to surprise her on her big 50 bday.
Thank you again for taking the time to write such a beautiful recollection of your experience. My sister and I were sitting in front of the TV exactly the same way.


43 Sherry Riter April 28, 2015 at 3:49 am


I thought I wrote you, but I can’t find an email in my sent box. Did you get an email from me a while back?


44 M Todd Williams February 19, 2015 at 2:41 am

Thank you for this article! Not only did it fill a gap in my memory but it also shows me how I am not alone in the impact this film had on my childhood.


45 Sherry Riter April 28, 2015 at 3:46 am

I’m so glad you enjoyed the memories! 🙂


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