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Remarkable People

FRED ROGERS

For 895 episodes, beginning in February of 1968, Fred Rogers taught children about life during his program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Here’s a look into the life of this endearing educator.

• Fred Rogers wrote upwards of 35 books for children, helping them handle what might come their way in life, including Going to the Doctor, Moving, Going to Day Care, Making Friends, The New Baby, and When a Pet Dies. After the September 11 attacks, he issued public service announcements for parents, instructing them on how to discuss the tragedy with their children.

• Every episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” began with Fred singing the theme song “Won’t You Be • Comedian Eddie Murphy parodied Fred Rogers on My Neighbor?”, a song composed by Rogers himself. Saturday Night Live, as “Mister Robinson’s NeighborHe began playing the piano at age five. Nearly all of hood.” After an SNL taping in 1982, Fred, who truly enjoyed Murphy’s portrayal, surprised the comedian in the music on the program was composed by Rogers. • Bullied as a child for being overweight, Mr. Rogers his dressing room. When Murphy opened the door, he sought to teach children to love themselves and oth- stepped back, then with a huge smile, said, “The REAL ers, and how to overcome their fears. Each program Mister Rogers!” had a theme, addressing life’s issues, such as going • In 1996, Rogers veered away from children’s programto the doctor, starting school, divorce, and racism, or ming for one episode of television’s Dr. Quinn, Medidemonstrations of how things work or the manufac- cine Woman, in which he played the role of a preacher, ture of everyday items, often including a field trip. the only time he appeared on television as someone Mr. Rogers frequently fed fish in his aquarium during other than himself. the program. • Rogers was the recipient of numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, • A Pennsylvania native, during high school Rogers for his contributions to children’s eduwas president of the student council, editor of the cation. George W. Bush spoke of Mr. yearbook, an honors student, and even obtained a piRogers at the time of the award, saying lot’s license. After earning a degree in music compothat “Fred Rogers has proven that televisition, he entered seminary and became an ordained sion can soothe the soul and nurture the Presbyterian minister. Yet his desire was to work in television, and he landed a job with NBC as an as- spirit and teach the very young.” Rogers also received sistant producer on musical programs. He went on 40 honorary degrees from universities, including Yale, to produce an hour-long program “The Children’s Carnegie Mellon, and Dartmouth. One of his cardigan Corner,” also serving as the show’s puppeteer, music sweaters is on display at the Smithsonian Institute. composer, and organist. • Fred Rogers took great care of himself, observing a

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vegetarian diet, swimming every morning, and never smoked or drank. However, he was no match for stomach cancer diagnosed in December, 2002. Just two months later, Mr. Rogers passed away shortly before his 75th birthday.

King CROSSWORD

• Mr. Rogers’ signature outfit was sneakers and a zippered cardigan. He got into the habit of wearing sneakers on set when he noticed they were quieter than work shoes. The cardigans were knitted by his mother, who had knitted sweaters for American soldiers fighting in Europe during World War II.

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