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Still in this neighborhood: Most co-stars remain in area

Thursday, February 26, 2004

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The supporting cast members of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" continue their daily visits with children through PBS's reruns of the classic children's series. Here's what some of them are doing today:

Chuck Aber

After making initial appearances on the "Neighborhood" in the mid-'70s, Aber became a regular as Neighbor Aber in the early '80s and remained with the series throughout its run.

In recent years, he's also appeared on stage locally in "The Music Man" and "My Fair Lady." His primary work is in commercials, including one for Dean Honda, and industrial videos.

Aber, who lives in Mt. Lebanon, will appear with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at a fund-raiser featuring the music of Mister Rogers on March 27. He'll also be involved in a requiem in memory of Mister Rogers at 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Justin's on Mount Washington and again at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Butler County Community College.

Betty Aberlin

The actress who played Lady Aberlin in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe continues to work, appearing in the upcoming film "Jersey Girl" from director Kevin Smith. She also had a part in Smith's "Dogma," which was filmed in Pittsburgh in the late '90s. Aberlin lives in New York.

Joe Negri

From the beginning of the series to the end, jazz guitarist Joe Negri had roles in the "Neighborhood," both in the real world as owner of Negri's Music Shop and as Handyman Negri in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Negri, who lives in Scott, teaches jazz guitar as an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University. He'll receive an Elsie Award on April 1 and has a new CD ready for release this spring.

He'll also participate in the upcoming symphony and requiem concerts.

Audrey Roth

Best known as the phone operator to King Friday, Miss Paulificate, Audrey Roth said Fred Rogers once explained the origin of her character's unusual name. It was derived from the names of the children of a friend of Rogers in Canada: Paul, Iffy (a nickname for Elizabeth) and Cate.

Roth also had a business, Audrey Cleans Everything, in the real-world Neighborhood.

A painter, Roth lives in Point Breeze and will be part of next month's symphony gala.

Betsy Nadas Seamans

In addition to appearing as Mrs. McFeely, primarily in the early '70s and infrequently in the show's later years, Seamans wrote for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

As a filmmaker, she and her husband run New Wrinkle Productions out of their Point Breeze home and worked on Family Communications' recent training project designed to help police interact with children.

"I was 24 when I started playing this 60-year-old woman, so I've always been pretty much in disguise," Seamans said of her role as Mrs. McFeely. "I look more like her now that I'm 56. People seem to recognize me more by my voice. She wasn't a major character, but to this day, it's so fun if somebody finds out you're Mrs. McFeely. It gives people this enormous charge. It's fun to give people this happy moment."

Maggie Stewart

Known to "Neighborhood" viewers as Mayor Maggie, Stewart is a professional American Sign Language interpreter who lives in Squirrel Hill. She's a member of St. Justin's and will participate in the requiem there this weekend.

She appears in a pilot video supporting Family Communications' "One Kind Word" training program for retail employees and appeared on Broadway and in a touring company of "The King and I."

Post-Gazette TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582.

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