Facts about Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers Biography
Fred Rogers was the gentle host of the popular long-running children’s TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Fred Rogers was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and attended Dartmouth College for two years before graduating from Rollins College in 1951 with a degree in musical composition. He briefly entered a seminary, but then became fascinated with the educational potential of television. (He eventually graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1963 and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church.)
From 1954-61, Fred Rogers worked on the kids’ show The Children’s Corner on Pittsburgh public TV station WQED. He was a puppeteer, composed music and played the organ. The show was live and often unscripted as his puppet characters chatted with host Josie Carey.
His own show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, debuted on WQED in 1967 and was picked up by PBS the next year, becoming a staple of public TV stations around the United States. Rogers’ mild manner, cardigan sweaters and soft speaking voice — along with his theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — made him both widely beloved and widely parodied.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood eventually ran for 895 episodes before Fred Rogers ended production of the show in 2001, but reruns continued to be aired on many PBS stations. He died in 2003 after a short battle with stomach cancer.
A documentary about Mister Rogers, titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, was released in 2018.
Fred Rogers married the former Sarah Byrd in 1952, and they remained married until his death. They had two sons: James (born 1959) and John (b. 1961)… Comedian Eddie Murphy did a popular parody of Mister Rogers for the TV show Saturday Night Live… There is no truth to the rumor that Mister Rogers was once an Army sniper, a Marine or a Navy SEAL. (Similar untrue stories are told about John Denver and TV’s Captain Kangaroo.) Fred Rogers did not serve in the military in any capacity.