Fred McFeely Rogers was born in 1928 in Latrobe,
Pennsylvania, 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. He studied music composition in
college -- which helped him write songs for his show later -- and, in the
1950s, he worked as a puppeteer for "The Children's Corner," a
show he and Josie Carey launched on WQED. Many of the characters who later
appeared on "Neighborhood" were created on that show.
beginning, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was deliberately simple
and straightforward, marked by Rogers' purposeful actions and soothing
voice. Every show he would enter his home, take off his jacket and shoes,
and put on a sweater and comfortable footwear while offering a welcome for
slow-paced show offered an alternate universe to most of today's quick-edit
cartoon children's programming. On the eve of his final show, Rogers told
CNN's Jeff Greenfield he looked at the program as more than entertainment;
it was a chance to reach young people and give them a foundation for a good
life. "I believe that those of us who are the producers and purveyors
of television -- or video games or newspapers or any mass media -- I believe
that we are the servants of this nation," Rogers said.
That's why he got into television in the first place. "I got into
television because I hated it so," he said. "And I thought there
was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who
would watch and listen."
Rogers' Neighborhood" won dozens of awards, including four Emmys. A
cardigan sweater belonging to Rogers hangs in the Smithsonian. In 2002,
President George W. Bush presented Rogers with the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, recognizing his contribution
to the well-being of children and a career in public television that
demonstrated the importance of kindness, compassion and learning. Through it
all, he maintained his down-to-earth, easygoing nature. "I have really never considered myself a TV star,"
he said in a 1995 interview. "I always thought I was a neighbor who
just came in for a visit
nonprofit production company, Family Communications Inc., released a
statement after his death. "We are grateful for the many people, young
and old, who have cared about his work over the years and who continue to
appreciate 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' on PBS. We hope that you'll join us
in celebrating his life by reflecting on his messages and taking them into
your everyday lives."
once said he hoped kids who watch "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"
will take the show and its lessons with them as they grow into adults
to Captain Kangaroo
to Shari Lewis