Friday, February 27, 2009

On This Day In History: Mr. Rogers dies

Beloved children’s entertainer Fred Rogers succumbs to stomach cancer at 74 on this day in 2003. The talented writer and puppeteer, known to generations of children simply as “Mr. Rogers,” hosted “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” on public television for more than 30 years.

A native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers filmed the famed show in Pittsburgh, 30 miles east of his hometown. He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh and, in 1962, was ordained as Presbyterian minister with a mission to work with children and families through television. Beginning in 1954, he worked as a puppeteer on a show called “The Children’s Corner,” before beginning work on his own show, which first aired in 1968.

Singing his well-known theme song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Rogers would enter his living-room-like set at the beginning of each episode, changing his shoes and sweater. He would then take his viewers on a magical trolley ride to the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” where he introduced them to characters such as King Friday XIII, his wife Queen Sara Saturday, Curious X the Owl, and Henrietta Pussycat. Even in an era of slick packaging and new technology in children’s programming, Rogers found continued success by sticking to his original message—that children should love each other and themselves. He aimed to help children deal with troubling emotions, like fear and anger, as well as everyday problems, like visiting the dentist.

Rogers composed most of his show’s songs and did much of the puppeteering and voices himself. Despite countless awards and honors, including four Emmys® and a George Foster Peabody Award, Rogers once remarked, “I have never really considered myself a TV star. I always thought I was neighbor who just came in for a visit.” He taped his last show in December 2000, but came out of retirement briefly to film public service announcements helping parents and children deal with the September 11th tragedy. One of Rogers’ trademark red sweaters now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.


Unknown said...

Hi! We saw that you have previously blogged about Fred Rogers. Last year, viewers from around the world showed their support and wore their favorite sweater in honor of Mister Rogers on March 20, which would have been his 80th birthday. We just wanted to let you know the tradition is continuing on March 20 of 2009, as “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day.

Here is the link to the new video. Feel free to leave comments here about your favorite memory of Mister Rogers Neighborhood or last year's "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Day.

We would love for you to post it and send it to all your friends!

Thank you!

Unknown said...

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