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Fred McFeely Rogers (1928 - 2003)

A photo of Fred McFeely Rogers
Fred McFeely Rogers
1928 - 2003
Born
March 20, 1928
Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania United States 15650
Death
February 27, 2003
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania United States 93446
Other Names
Mister Rogers, Fred McFeely Rogers
Summary
Fred McFeely Rogers was born on March 20, 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania United States. He is the child of Nancy (McFeely) Flagg and James Hillis Rogers, with sibling Nancy. According to his family tree, Fred was father to 2 children. He married Joanne Rogers on June 9, 1952. They were married until Fred's death in 2003. They had children James Byrd Rogers and John Frederick Rogers. He died on February 27, 2003 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States at 74 years of age.
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Updated: October 26, 2021
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Introduction
He was born to James and Nancy Rogers in Latrobe PA. His father was a successful businessman who was president of the McFeely Brick Company, Rogers also had a sister, Elaine, whom the Rogers's adopted when he was 11 years old. Fred McFeely Rogers was married to Joanne Byrd in 1952. They had 2 children. He was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. Rogers was famous for creating, hosting and composing the theme music for the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his kind-hearted grandfatherly personality, and direct connection to his audiences. Originally trained and ordained as a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children at the time, and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. Rogers developed his own show on WQED in 1968, and it was distributed nationwide by Eastern Educational Television Network. Over the course of three decades on television, Rogers became an icon of American children's entertainment and education. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of fair-use recording of television shows to play at another time (now known as time shifting) was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children's television. Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 40 honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide's Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time. Several buildings and artworks in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory, and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a "Treasure of American History". On June 25, 2016, the Fred Rogers Historical Marker was placed near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and was named and dedicated in his memory. He was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, 40 miles (65 km) southeast of Pittsburgh, to James and Nancy Rogers; he had one sister, Elaine. Early in life, he spent much of his free time with his maternal grandfather, Fred McFeely, who had an interest in music. He would often sing along as his mother would play the piano, and he himself began playing at five. He obtained a pilot's license while still in high school. Rogers graduated from Latrobe High School (1946). He studied at Dartmouth College (1946–48), then transferred to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he earned a B.A. in Music Composition in 1951. Rogers was also a trained general aviation pilot. At Rollins, he met Sara Joanne Byrd (born c. 1928), an Oakland, Florida, native; they married on June 9, 1952. They had two sons, James (b. 1959) and John (b. 1961). In 1963, Rogers graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained a minister in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Rogers had an apartment in New York City and a summer home on Nantucket island in Massachusetts. Rogers was red–green color blind, swam every morning, and neither smoked nor drank. He was a vegetarian on ethical grounds, stating "I don't want to eat anything that has a mother." Despite recurring rumors, he never served in the military. His office at WQED Pittsburgh famously did not have a desk, only a sofa and armchairs, because Rogers thought a desk was "too much of a barrier". Early work Fred Rogers had a life-changing moment when he first saw television in his parents' home. He entered seminary after college; but, after his first experience as a viewer, he wanted to explore the potential of the medium. In an interview with CNN in his later years, Rogers stated, "I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there's some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen." He applied for a job at NBC in New York City in 1951 and then worked on musical programs including Your Hit Parade, The Kate Smith Hour, and The Voice of Firestone. He also worked on Gabby Hayes' show for children. Ultimately, Rogers decided that commercial television's reliance on advertisement and merchandising undermined its ability to educate or enrich young audiences, so he quit NBC. In 1954, he began working at WQED, a Pittsburgh public television station, as a puppeteer on the local children's show The Children's Corner. For the next seven years, he worked with host Josie Carey in unscripted live TV, developing many of the puppets, characters, and music used in his later work, such as King Friday XIII and X the Owl. Rogers began wearing his famous sneakers when he found them to be quieter than his work shoes as he moved about behind the set. He was also the voices of King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday (named after his wife), rulers of the neighborhood; as well as X the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat, Daniel Stripèd Tiger, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, and Larry Horse. The show won a Sylvania Award[26] for best children's show and was briefly broadcast nationally on NBC. During his off hours, he would leave the WQED studios during his lunch breaks to study theology at the nearby Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Rogers, however, was not interested in preaching; and, after his ordination, he was specifically charged to continue his work with children's television. He had also done work at the University of Pittsburgh's program in Child Development and Child Care. In 1963, Rogers moved to Toronto, where he was contracted by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) to develop his debut in front of the camera, the 15-minute children's program Mister Rogers,] which, though popular with children, ran for just three seasons. Many of his famous set pieces—Trolley, Eiffel Tower, the 'tree', and 'castle'—were created by CBC designers. While in Toronto, Rogers brought to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood his friend and understudy Ernie Coombs, who would go on to create Mr. Dressup, a very successful and long-running children's show on CBC, and similar in many ways. Mr. Dressup also used some of the songs that would be featured on Rogers' later program. Coombs was a puppeteer and voice actor on Misterogers. When Rogers returned to the United States, Coombs remained in Canada and was in the cast of the CBC's replacement for Misterogers, Butternut Square, on CBC TV between October 19, 1964, and February 10, 1967 and then starred in his own show, Mister Dressup (1967-1996). In 1966, Rogers acquired the rights to his program from the CBC and moved the show to WQED in Pittsburgh, where he had worked on The Children's Corner. He developed the new show for the Eastern Educational Network. Stations that carried the program were limited but did include educational stations in Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York City. After returning to Pittsburgh, Rogers attended the Sixth Presbyterian Church in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Distribution of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood began on February 19, 1968. The following year, the show moved to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). In 1971, Rogers formed Family Communications, Inc. (FCI), and the company established offices in the WQED building in Pittsburgh. Initially, the company served solely as the production arm of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but it now develops and produces an array of children's programming and educational materials. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood A sweater worn by Rogers, on display in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History
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Biography
Fred McFeely Rogers
Most commonly known as
Fred McFeely Rogers
Full name
Mister Rogers, Fred McFeely Rogers
Other names or aliases
Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania 15650
Last known residence
Male
Gender
Fred Rogers was born on in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania United States 15650
Birth
Fred Rogers died on in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania United States 93446
Death
Birth
Death
Stomach cancer
Cause of death
Unity Cemetery Unity Cemetery Rd, in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania United States 15650
Burial / Funeral
Heritage

Ethnicity & Lineage

Caucasian

Nationality & Locations

A 6th cousin of actor Tom Hanks through their mutual German ancestor.
Childhood

Education

Dartmouth College (Transferred) Rollins College (BM) Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (BD)

Religion

Presbyterian but while in a coma while he was dying, he received last rites from a Roman Catholic priest.

Baptism

Was Fred baptized?
Adulthood

Professions

Children's television presenter, actor, puppeteer, singer, composer, television producer, author, educator, Presbyterian minister.

Personal Life

Public Television.

Military Service

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Obituary

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Joanne Rogers

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Fred McFeely Rogers

Married: June 9, 1952 - February 23, 2003
Cause of Separation: Fred's Death
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Amanda S. Stevenson commented on Mar 26, 2018
Main article: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Mister Rogers' Neighborhood began airing in 1968 and ran for 895 episodes; the last set of new episodes was taped in December 2000 and began airing in August 2001. At its peak, in 1985, 8% of U.S households tuned into the show.[4] Each episode began the same way: Mister Rogers is seen coming home, singing his theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", and changing into sneakers and a zippered cardigan sweater (he stated in an interview for Emmy TV that all of his sweaters were knitted by his mother).[30] In a typical episode, Rogers might have an earnest conversation with his television audience, interact with live guests, take a field trip to such places as a bakery or a music store, or watch a short film. Typical video subjects included demonstrations of how mechanical objects work, such as bulldozers, or how things are manufactured, such as crayons. Each episode included a trip to Rogers' "Neighborhood of Make-Believe" featuring a trolley with its own chiming theme song, a castle, and the kingdom's citizens, including King Friday XIII. The subjects discussed in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe often allowed further development of themes discussed in Mister Rogers' "real" neighborhood. Mister Rogers often fed his fish during episodes. Typically, each week's episode explored a major theme, such as going to school for the first time. Originally, most episodes ended with a song entitled "Tomorrow", and Friday episodes looked forward to the week ahead with an adapted version of "It's Such a Good Feeling". In later seasons, all episodes ended with "Feeling". Rogers on the set of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in the late 1960s Visually, the presentation of the show was very simple, and it did not feature the animation or fast pace of other children's shows, which Rogers thought of as "bombardment".[3] Rogers also believed in not acting out a different persona on camera compared to how he acted off camera, stating that "One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away."[31] Rogers composed almost all of the music on the program.[note 1] He wanted to teach children to love themselves and others, and he addressed common childhood fears with comforting songs and skits. For example, one of his famous songs explains how a child cannot be pulled down the bathtub drain because he or she will not fit. He even once took a trip to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to show children that a hospital is not a place to fear. During the Gulf War (1990–91), he assured his audience that all children in the neighborhood would be well cared for and asked parents to promise to take care of their own children. The message was aired again by PBS during the media storm that preceded the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Other television work In 1994, Rogers created another one-time special for PBS called Fred Rogers' Heroes, which consisted of documentary portraits of four real-life people whose work helped make their communities better. Rogers, uncharacteristically dressed in a suit and tie, hosted in wraparound segments that did not use the "Neighborhood" set. For a time, Rogers produced specials for parents as a precursor to the subject of the week on the Neighborhood called "Mister Rogers Talks To Parents About [topic]". Rogers didn't host those specials, but instead invited news announcers, such as Joan Lunden (who hosted the Conflict special), to take on the emcee duties in front of a gallery of parents while Rogers answered questions from them. These specials were made to prepare parents for questions their children might ask after watching the episodes on the topic of the week. The only time Rogers appeared on television as someone other than himself was in 1996 when he played a preacher on one episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.[4] In the mid-1980s, the Burger King fast-food chain lampooned Rogers' image with an actor called "Mr. Rodney", imitating Rogers' television character.[32] Rogers found the character's pitching fast food as confusing to children, and called a press conference in which he stated that he did not endorse the company's use of his character or likeness (Rogers did no commercial endorsements of any kind throughout his career, though, over the years, he acted as a pitchman for several non-profit organizations dedicated to learning). The chain publicly apologized for the faux pas and pulled the ads.[33] By contrast, Fred Rogers found Eddie Murphy's parody of his show on Saturday Night Live, "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood," amusing and affectionate; the parody was also initially broadcast at a time of night when his own child audience was not likely to see it.[34] Rogers voiced himself on the "Arthur Meets Mister Rogers" segment of the PBS Kids series Arthur.[35] In 1998, Rogers appeared as himself on an episode of Candid Camera as the victim of one of the show's pranks. He was the only one who took the prank with great humor rather than being left angered like the other victims. Emmys for programming Mister Rogers' Neighborhood won four Emmy awards, and Rogers himself was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys,[36] as described by Esquire's Tom Junod: Mister Rogers went onstage to accept the award—and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "I'll watch the time." There was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. And so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds—and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. And Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.[17][37] Other works Rogers wrote many of the songs that were used on his television program, and more than 36 books, including: Mister Rogers Talks with Parents (1983) Eight New Experiences titles: Moving Going to the Doctor Going to the Hospital Going to Day Care Going to the Potty Making Friends The New Baby When a Pet Dies You Are Special: Words of Wisdom from America's Most Beloved Neighbor (1994) The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember (2003) Advocacy Rogers meeting with President George W. Bush in 2002 PBS funding In 1969, Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to significant proposed cuts. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He passionately argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in media and in popular culture. He recited the lyrics to one of his songs.[38] The chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, was not familiar with Rogers' work and was sometimes described as impatient. However, he reported that the testimony had given him goosebumps, and declared, "I think it's wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million." The subsequent congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.[39] VCR During the controversy surrounding the introduction of the household VCR, Rogers was involved in supporting the manufacturers of VCRs in court. His 1979 testimony, in the case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., noted that he did not object to home recordings of his television programs, for instance, by families in order to watch them together at a later time. This testimony contrasted with the views of others in the television industry who objected to home recordings or believed that devices to facilitate it should be taxed or regulated. When the case reached the Supreme Court in 1983, the majority decision considered the testimony of Rogers when it held that the Betamax video recorder did not infringe copyright. The Court stated that his views were a notable piece of evidence "that many [television] producers are willing to allow private time-shifting to continue" and even quoted his testimony in a footnote: Some public stations, as well as commercial stations, program the Neighborhood at hours when some children cannot use it ... I have always felt that with the advent of all of this new technology that allows people to tape the Neighborhood off-the-air, and I'm speaking for the Neighborhood because that's what I produce, that they then become much more active in the programming of their family's television life. Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. My whole approach in broadcasting has always been "You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions." Maybe I'm going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.[40] Death and memorials The Fred Rogers Memorial Statue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Created by Robert Berks, and opened to the public on November 5, 2009. Rogers was diagnosed with stomach cancer in December 2002. He underwent surgery on January 6, 2003, which was unsuccessful.[7][41] A week earlier, he served as grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade, with Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby.[42] Rogers died on the morning of February 27, 2003, at his home with his wife by his side, less than a month before he would have turned 75.[7][43] His death was such a significant event in Pittsburgh that most of the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published the next day and an entire section of the paper devoted its coverage to him.[44] The Reverend William P. Barker presided over a public memorial in Pittsburgh. More than 2,700 people attended the memorial at Heinz Hall, including former Good Morning America host David Hartman; Teresa Heinz Kerry; philanthropist Elsie Hillman; PBS President Pat Mitchell; Arthur creator Marc Brown; and Eric Carle, the author-illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.[15] Speakers remembered Rogers's love of children, devotion to his religion, enthusiasm for music, and quirks. Teresa Heinz Kerry said of Rogers, "He never condescended, just invited us into his conversation. He spoke to us as the people we were, not as the people others wished we were."[45] Rogers is interred at Unity Cemetery in Latrobe. The Blue's Clues episode "Our Neighborhood Festival" featured a dedication to Rogers at the end of the episode which read: "In Loving Memory of Fred Rogers. The neighborhood won't be the same without you."[46] In January 2018, it was announced that Tom Hanks would portray Rogers in an upcoming biographical film titled You Are My Friend directed by Marielle Heller.[47] Awards and honors On New Year's Day 2004, Michael Keaton, who had been a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood before becoming an actor, hosted the PBS TV special Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor. It was released on DVD September 28 that year. In 2008, to mark what would have been his 80th birthday, Rogers' production company sponsored several events to memorialize him, including "Won't You Wear a Sweater Day", during which fans and neighbors were asked to wear their favorite sweaters in celebration.[48] The event takes place annually on his birthday, March 20.[49] Rogers received the Ralph Lowell Award in 1975.[50] The television industry honored Rogers with a George Foster Peabody Award "in recognition of 25 years of beautiful days in the neighborhood" in 1992;[51] previously, he had shared a Peabody award for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1968. Also in 1992, he was initiated as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the national fraternity for men of music.[52] Rogers was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.[53] He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.[54] One of Rogers' iconic sweaters was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, which displays it as a "Treasure of American History".[55] In 2002, Rogers received the PNC Commonwealth Award in Mass Communications.[56] In 1991, the Pittsburgh Penguins named Rogers as their celebrity captain, as part of a celebration of the National Hockey League's 75th anniversary,[57] based on his connections to Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. Card #297 from the 1992 NHL Pro Set Platinum collection commemorated the event, making Fred one of only twelve celebrity captains to be chosen for a sports card.[58] "Interpretations of Oakland" by John Laidacker George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, for his contributions to children's education, saying that "Fred Rogers has proven that television can soothe the soul and nurture the spirit and teach the very young". A year later, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Resolution 16 to commemorate the life of Fred Rogers.[1] It read, in part, "Through his spirituality and placid nature, Mr. Rogers was able to reach out to our nation's children and encourage each of them to understand the important role they play in their communities and as part of their families. More importantly, he did not shy away from dealing with difficult issues of death and divorce but rather encouraged children to express their emotions in a healthy, constructive manner, often providing a simple answer to life's hardships." Following Rogers' death, the U.S. House of Representatives in 2003 unanimously passed Resolution 111 honoring Rogers for "his legendary service to the improvement of the lives of children, his steadfast commitment to demonstrating the power of compassion, and his dedication to spreading kindness through example."[59] The same year, the Presbyterian Church approved an overture "to observe a memorial time for the Reverend Fred M. Rogers" at its General Assembly.[60] The rationale for the recognition of Rogers reads, "The Reverend Fred Rogers, a member of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh, as host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood since 1968, had a profound effect on the lives of millions of people across the country through his ministry to children and families. Mister Rogers promoted and supported Christian values in the public media with his demonstration of unconditional love. His ability to communicate with children and to help them understand and deal with difficult questions in their lives will be greatly missed."[61] In 2003, the asteroid 26858 Misterrogers was named after Rogers, by the International Astronomical Union, in an announcement at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. The science center worked with Rogers' Family Communications, Inc. to produce a planetarium show for preschoolers called "The Sky Above Mister Rogers' Neighborhood", which plays at planetariums across the United States.[62][63] Several buildings, monuments, and works of art are dedicated to Rogers' memory, including a mural sponsored by the Pittsburgh-based Sprout Fund in 2006, "Interpretations of Oakland," by John Laidacker that featured Mr. Rogers.[64] Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, completed construction of The Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media in 2008.[65] The Fred Rogers Memorial Statue on the North Shore near Heinz Field in Pittsburgh[66] was created by Robert Berks and dedicated in 2009.[67] The statue was placed in front of the surviving footing of the Manchester Bridge, which was cleaned and carved out in order to place the statue there. In 2015, players of the Altoona Curve, a Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, honored Rogers by wearing special commemorative jerseys that featured a printed facsimile of his classic cardigan and tie ensemble. After the game the jerseys were auctioned off with the proceeds going to the local PBS station, WPSU-TV.[68] On March 6, 2018, a primetime special, hosted by actor Michael Keaton, aired on PBS. The hour-long special, which also features actress Sara Silverman, musician Yo-Yo Ma, actor Tom Hanks, actress Whoopi Goldberg, screenwriter Judd Apatow, actor John Lithgow, actor David Newell, and producer Ellen Doherty, honors Fred Rogers and commemorates the 50th anniversary of his series.[69] Fred Rogers appeared on a commemorative US postage stamp in 2018. The stamp, showing him as Mister Rogers alongside King Friday XIII, was issued on March 23, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[70]
Daniel Pinna commented on Nov 13, 2020
Thank you Fred. Thank you for all the childhood experiences of watching Mr. Rogers' neighborhood and for recognizing the importance of childhood and the impacts this time of our lives has in shaping the individuals we become. Thank you as well for being a role model as an adult. You show me through example how it is up to us to be conscious and aware of our thoughts & actions. In every moment of every day & night - it's a practice and not a philosophy.

Obituary

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as host of the public television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" for more than 30 years, died of cancer early Thursday. He was 74. Rogers died at his Pittsburgh home, said family spokesman David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show. Rogers had been diagnosed with stomach cancer sometime after the holidays, Newell said. "He was so genuinely, genuinely kind, a wonderful person," Newell said. "His mission was to work with families and children for television. ... That was his passion, his mission, and he did it from day one." From 1968 to 2000, Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, produced the show at Pittsburgh public television station WQED. The final new episode, which was taped in December 2000, aired in August 2001, though PBS affiliates continued to air back episodes. Rogers composed his own songs for the show and began each episode in a set made to look like a comfortable living room, singing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood," as he donned sneakers and a zip-up cardigan. "I have really never considered myself a TV star," Rogers said in a 1995 interview. "I always thought I was a neighbor who just came in for a visit." His message remained simple: telling his viewers to love themselves and others. On each show, he would take his audience on a magical trolley ride into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where his puppet creations would interact with each other and adults. Rogers did much of the puppet work and voices himself. Rogers taught children how to share, deal with anger and even why they shouldn't fear the bathtub by assuring them they'll never go down the drain. During the Persian Gulf War, Rogers told youngsters that "all children shall be well taken care of in this neighborhood and beyond – in times of war and in times of peace," and he asked parents to promise their children they would always be safe. "We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility," he said in 1994. "It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' "Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes." Rogers came out of broadcasting retirement last year to record four public service announcements for the Public Broadcasting Service telling parents how to help their children deal with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. "They don't understand what an anniversary is, and if they see the tragedy replayed on television, they might think it's happening at that moment," he said. Rogers' show won four Emmy Awards, plus one for lifetime achievement. He was given a George Foster Peabody Award in 1993, "in recognition of 25 years of beautiful days in the neighborhood." At a ceremony marking the show's 25th anniversary in 1993, Rogers said, "It's not the honors and not the titles and not the power that is of ultimate importance. It's what resides inside." The show's ratings peaked in 1985-86 when about 8 percent of all U.S. households with televisions tuned in. By the 1999-2000 season, viewership had dropped to about 2.7 percent, or 3.6 million people. One of Rogers' red sweaters hangs in the Smithsonian Institution. As other children's programming opted for slick action cartoons, Rogers stayed the same and stuck to his soothing message. Rogers was born in Latrobe, 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. He was ordained in 1962 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through television. He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh's graduate school and consulted for decades with the late Dr. Margaret McFarland, an eminent child development expert at the university. The show examined the tribulations of childhood, including anger, fear, even a visit to the dentist. Off the set, Rogers was much like his television persona. He swam daily, read voraciously and listened to Beethoven. He once volunteered at a state prison in Pittsburgh and helped set up a playroom there for children visiting their parents. Rogers was an unseen puppeteer in "The Children's Corner," a local show he and Josie Carey launched at WQED in 1954. In seven years of unscripted, live television on the show, he developed many of the puppets used in "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," including King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger and Curious X the Owl. Rogers accepted an offer to develop his own 15-minute show in Canada. He brought the show, called "Misterogers," back to Pittsburgh and in February 1968 began its public broadcasting debut. Rogers' gentle manner was the butt of some comedian's jokes. Eddie Murphy parodied him on "Saturday Night Live" in the 80's with his "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood," a routine Rogers found funny and affectionate. Rogers is survived by his wife, Joanne, a concert pianist; two sons and two grandsons.
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1928 - 2003 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Fred's lifetime.

In 1928, in the year that Fred McFeely Rogers was born, Mickie Mouse was born! He first appeared in Disney's Steamboat Willie, along with Minnie. Although they were in two previous shorts, this was the first to be distributed. Steamboat Willie took advantage of the new technology and was a "talkie" - music was coordinated with the animation. It became the most popular cartoon of its day.

In 1948, he was 20 years old when on May 14th, the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first Premier, and the U.S. officially recognized Israel. That evening, Egypt launched an air assault on Israel.

In 1975, by the time he was 47 years old, on September 5th, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme tried to assassinate President Ford in Sacramento, California. She failed when her gun wouldn't fire. President Ford escaped a second assassination attempt 17 days later on September 22 when Sarah Jane Moore tried to shoot him in San Francisco. A bystander saw her raise her arm, grabbed it, and the shot went wild.

In 1985, by the time he was 57 years old, on March 15th, the first internet domain name was registered - Symbolics.com. Symbolics, Inc., a spinoff of the MIT AI Lab, was a computer manufacturer headquartered in Massachusetts. The company no longer exists and the domain name was sold 25 years later.

In 1992, Fred was 64 years old when on February 1st, US President George Bush and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia jointly announced an end to the Cold War, proclaiming a new era of "friendship and partnership". At Camp David in Maryland, they reviewed ways to jointly reduce nuclear arms and support reforms in Russia but no agreement was reached at that meeting.

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