Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers Headshot

Host • Producer • Minister

Birth Name: Fred McFeely Rogers

Birth Date: March 20, 1928

Death Date: February 27, 2003

Birth Place: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Fred Rogers attended Dartmouth College, but transferred and graduated from Rollins College with a BA in music composition. After graduation, Rogers moved to New York City, where he worked behind the scenes on a number of shows for NBC. Disillusioned by the network TV business model, Rogers returned to Pittsburgh and began to work for the local public television station, WQED. There, he developed puppets, characters and music, which he incorporated into a show directed at pre-school aged children. In 1963, Rogers was contacted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to develop his show into a series. "Misterogers" (CBC, 1962-1966) began aired in Canada from 1964 through 1967, and included many of the songs and set pieces that were to become a part of his subsequent work including his trademark sneakers and sweater. In 1967, Rogers moved the show back to Pittsburgh, and in 1968, it began airing on PGS as "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" (NET, 1968-1970; PBS, 1971-2001). In 1969, Rogers famously testified before the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications, advocating for an increase in funding for PBS. His testimony was considered instrumental and in 1971, the budget was increased from $9 million to $22 million. With over 40 years of programming, it is impossible to overstate the affect Mr. Rogers had on generations of preschoolers and their parents. His gentle insight and calls for inclusion and understanding resonated with millions. The show also tried to address fears and anxiety that children might have, from dealing with emergency situations to reassuring children whose parents were deployed in the Gulf War. The final episodes of the show were taped in 2000 and began airing the next year. In 2002, Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rogers passed away in 2003, shortly after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. Fifteen years later, the documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor" (2018), chronicling his life and affect on society became the highest grossing biographical documentary of all time.

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