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Highlights in the life and career of Fred Rogers

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

1928 - Fred McFeely Rogers is born in Latrobe, Pa.

1951 - Graduates from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., with a degree in music composition. Is hired by NBC in New York City as an assistant producer on "The Voice of Firestone."

Fred Rogers with Josie Carey, the host of "The Children's Corner." (Post-Gazette archives)

1952 - Marries Joanne Byrd.

1953 - Returns to Pittsburgh and helps develop "The Children's Corner" for WQED-TV, which will be the nation's first public television station.

1954 - WQED goes on the air. Rogers serves as producer, musician and off-screen puppeteer on "The Children's Corner," which is hosted by Josie Carey. Several of Rogers' best-known puppets make their debut on the show, including Daniel Striped Tiger, King Friday XIII, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and X the Owl.

1955 - "The Children's Corner" wins the Sylvania Award as the nation's best locally produced children's show and is tabbed as a summer replacement series by NBC. Later, the network gives it a brief Saturday morning run.

1959 - First child, James, is born.

1961 - Second child, John, is born.

1963 - Is ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Makes his on-camera debut as host of a series of 15-minute episodes for children produced in Toronto. The program is titled "Mister Rogers."

1964 - Returns to Pittsburgh and turns his 15-minute show into the half-hour "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

1968 - "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" debuts on PBS and wins the first of its several Emmy Awards. Rogers is appointed chairman of the Forum on Mass Media and Child Development of the White House Conference on Youth.

1969 - Wins the first of his two George Foster Peabody Awards for television excellence.

Fred Rogers readies the opening pitch to start the Pirates' season in 1988. (Post-Gazette archives)

1971 - Forms his production company, Family Communications Inc.

1975 - Ceases production on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," which continues to air on PBS in reruns.

1978 - Creates the PBS series "Old Friends, New Friends," focusing on older people.

1979 - Production resumes on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

1981 - Eddie Murphy plays an inner-city children's show host in his "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood" sketch on "Saturday Night Live," which is probably the most famous of the many "Mister Rogers" spoofs.

1984 - The Smithsonian Institution in Washington makes Fred Rogers' trademark sweater part of its permanent collection. Rogers forces the fast-food chain Burger King to remove ads featuring a Mister Rogers lookalike.

1987 - Appears on a children's TV show in the Soviet Union and reciprocates by having a Soviet host appear on his show later in the year.

1989 - "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe" opens as an attraction at Idlewild Park.

1990 - Sues the Ku Klux Klan and forces the organization to stop playing racist telephone recordings featuring imitations of Fred Rogers' voice, speech patterns and theme song.

Fred Rogers at a 1989 rehearsal for his his show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." (AP)

1991 - Tapes spots for PBS on the eve of the Gulf War to reassure children that they will be all right if hostilities occur.

1996 - TV Guide names Fred Rogers one of the 50 greatest TV stars of all time. Rogers makes his only appearance as someone other than himself when he takes a cameo role as a preacher on the drama series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," which he says is one of his favorite shows.

1997 - Is honored for lifetime achievement by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (who hand out the Emmy Awards) and by the Television Critics Association. Named Pittsburgher of the Year by Pittsburgh magazine.

1998 - Gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Pittsburgh Children's Museum opens a Mister Rogers exhibit.

1999 - Is inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

2000 - Unveils a planetarium show featuring "Neighborhood" characters at the Carnegie Science Center; ceases production on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

2001 - Last original episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" airs on PBS.

2002 - In July, is presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Filmed PBS public service announcements in August encouraging parents to read to their children and giving them advice on how to handle the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Is named grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., with Bill Cosby and Art Linkletter. The theme: "Children's Wishes, Dreams and Imagination."

2003 - Dies of stomach cancer at age 74.

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