Thursday, February 27, 2003

I have the hardest recital in the world! I sang through it once today, then parts of it with Glenn later this evening. It's really really really tough -- deceptively simple for parts, and then just stinking hard. It should be good if I pull it off...if not, frightening! And Glenn thinks I need an encore. Would you encore me? really? Ok, so now what for an encore? Chi sa? Non so.
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.
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, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor, 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 sweater. One of his red sweaters is now in the Smithsonian.
Rogers began his career in children’s television doing puppet voices for a local show on PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh. He became a national personality in 1968 when “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” became available to PBS stations across the country.

Key dates in the life of Fred Rogers
March 20, 19281954196319681985-'8619911993December 2000August 2001September 2002Feb. 27, 2003
Fred Rogers born in Latrobe, Pa.
Rogers introduces “The Children’s Corner,” a children’s show in Pittsburgh where he works as an unseen puppeteer.
Rogers accepts offer to develop his own 15-minute show, “Misterogers,” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
National Educational Television, which later becomes Public Broadcasting Service, begins distributing the show, by then called “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Ratings peak for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” as 8 percent of all U.S. households tune in.
During the Persian Gulf War, Rogers tells youngsters, "All children shall be well taken care of in this neighborhood and beyond — in times of war and in times of peace," and asks parents to promise their children they will always be safe.
At a ceremony marking the show’s 25th anniversary, Rogers says, “It’s not the honors and not the titles and not the power that is of ultimate importance. It’s what resides inside.”
Rogers tapes the show’s final episode.
Final episode airs.
Rogers comes out of broadcasting retirement to record public service announcements telling parents how to help their children deal with the Sept. 11 attacks anniversary.
Rogers dies of stomach cancer.


The show was quickly embraced by both children and parents for an imaginative but simple approach and the ongoing message: “There’s only one person in the whole world like you.”
His message remained simple throughout the years, 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 continued to do much of the puppet work and voices himself.

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.

Rogers taught children how to share, how to deal with anger and even how not to 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.
Rogers came out of broadcasting retirement last year to record four public service announcements for the Public Broadcasting Service telling parents that children might be confused by the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“They don’t understand what an anniversary is, and if they see the tragedy replayed on television, they might think it’s happening at that moment,” he said.
The series remained popular through the years, including with children of baby boomers who watched the show growing up. Its ratings peaked in 1985-’86 when approximately 8 percent of all U.S. households with televisions tuned in. By the 1999-2000 season, viewership had dropped to about 2.7 percent, or 3.6 million people.

As other children’s programming opted for slick action cartoons, Rogers stayed the same and stuck to his message. The show was the longest running children’s program on public television.
“It looks like nothing much happens,” Hedda Sharapan, an associate producer with the show, said in 2001. “Listening has been one of the main focus points.”
Characteristically, the Web site of his production company Family Entertainment Inc. announced his death with advice on how to relay the sad news to children who will continue to see him on television.
“Children have always known Mr. Rogers as their ‘television friend,’ and that relationship doesn’t change with his death,” the message said.

Rogers was born in Latrobe. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1962 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through television.
He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school and consulted for decades with the late Dr. Margaret McFarland, an eminent child development expert at the university. The show examined the tribulations of childhood, including anger, fear, even a visit to the dentist.
At a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the show in 1993, Rogers said, “It’s not the honors and not the titles and not the power that is of ultimate importance. It’s what resides inside.”
Off the set, Rogers was much like his television persona. He swam daily, read voraciously and listened to Beethoven. He once volunteered at a state prison in Pittsburgh and helped set up a playroom there for children visiting their parents.

Rogers was an unseen puppeteer in “The Children’s Corner,” a local show he and Josie Carey launched at WQED in 1954. In seven years of unscripted, live television on the show, he developed many of the puppets used in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” including King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger and Curious X the Owl.
Rogers accepted an offer to develop his own 15-minute show in Canada. He brought the show, called “Misterogers,” back to Pittsburgh and in February 1968 began its public broadcasting debut.
Rogers’ gentle manner was the butt of some comedian’s jokes. Eddie Murphy parodied him on “Saturday Night Live” in the 80’s with his “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” a routine Rogers found funny and affectionate.
Rogers is survived by his wife, Joanne, a concert pianist; two sons and two grandsons.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Ok, life is looking up! I have my folder sorted by closest connecting keys, color coordinated dividers....little labels, all music taped front to all I have to do is LEARN it all. Nope. No time for a panic attack today. I have class followed by a midterm, followed by a rehearsal...followed by two and a half hours of freedom, followed by rehearsal with Glenn, followed by frantic practicing...followed by collapse directly into bed. (with a short stop for prayer and devotions of course)....then I get up, go to class, rehearse with my accompanist, go back to class, rehearse by myself...then the weekend! Consisting of all day rehearsal in Saledo...then sunday -- church, then practice, then practice, practice, practice, SEW on recital dress, practice, maybe youth group, homework, practice, practice practice......and then its monday. My what a restful weekend this will be! I'm off to get ready for the day -- and to study for the midterm!