"Mister Rogers" dies of cancer at 74


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From http://www.salon.com/ent/wire/2003/02/27/rogers/index.html



Feb. 27, 2003 _|_ 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. He also studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh and consulted with an expert there over the years.

"He was certainly a perfectionist. There was a lot more to Fred than I think many of us saw," said Joe Negri, a guitarist who on the show played the royal handyman in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and owner of "Negri's Music Shop."

Negri said Rogers refused to accept shoddy ad-libbing by guests who may have thought they could slack off during a kid's show.

But Rogers could also enjoy taping as if he were a child himself, Negri recalled. Once, he said, the two of them fell into laughter because of the difficulty they had putting up a tent on the show.

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.


Mr Rogers

My two children were raised in his era and I got to watch a lot of him. He appeared to be a kind and gentle man. You never had to worry about leaving the kids by the TV and walking out in fear they may see something before their time. I have a blue button up the front sweater than I occasionally wear and the kids, now grown, ask me if I'm in the Mr. Roger's mode? I never considered that an insult. They broke the mold after this man.:( :smokin:


Super Moderator
Fred Rogers was one man that can truly be called "Kind, Caring, Conerned and above all else a Christian Gentleman".

Many times old, gruff, nasty me sat at watched Mr. Rogers and appreciated (enjoyed too) the programing he provided to children. He took up where Captain Kangaroo left off and went well beyond any other program for children.

His parting is going to leave a vast void in a wasteland that will probably never again be filled. The best thing that could be done is to start airing his shows again from the beginning for the up and coming generations of children to learn from and appreciate (love too).

For those of us that believe in the free promise offered by our Savior we can rest assured that Fred Rogers was welcomed home as a good and faithful servant.

Thank you Mr. Rogers


Quite Involved in Discussions
Certainly a sad day for many. I remember watching in 75 when my youngest sister got interested. Many lessons were learned by both children and adults. My sympathy to all of those of the "neighborhood".

Randy Stewart

They asked Captain Kangaroo (I can't think of Bobs last name Kesane) how Fred Rogers got into the personna of Mr. Rogers for the show. His reply was that it wasn't a personna, it was the real person. I thought that spoke volumes for the man.


Super Moderator
I think it's Bob Keeshan and for the sake of trivia he was also played the part of Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody. The Captain paved the road that Mr. Rogers turned from a 2 lane to an interstate.


My mom called me at work this morning to tell me that Mr. Rogers was on and she cried all the way through it.

My mom's been watching Mr. Rogers since she emigrated here from Germany, and when I was 5 and my parents realized I'd better learn English before I hit kindergarten, we watched him every day together.

(I honestly thought that Mr. Rogers would be my teacher at school because he helped teach me English.)

If only...

I hope they keep his show on so my daughter can grow up with him too.
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