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RIP, Mister Rogers

It’s a sad day in the neighborhood:

PITTSBURGH – Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as host of the public television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for more than 30 years, died of cancer early Thursday. He was 74.

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.


Rogers’ gentle manner was the butt of some comedian’s jokes. Eddie Murphy (news) parodied him on “Saturday Night Live (news – Y! TV)” in the 80’s with his “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” a routine Rogers found funny and affectionate.

All of your Mister Rogers-related questions are answered here. He enjoyed the parodies of himself:

And, all you basketball fans, he doesn’t mind at all that San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson is doing his thing in that “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” Nike ad. “I’m so impressed with David Robinson’s spirituality,” he said. Mister Rogers even had a kind word for Eddie Murphy, who spoofed him on Saturday Night Live. “When I met him, finally, he was so affectionate and gentle,” he said.

I recall reading that Eddie Murphy went into total fanboy mode when he met Fred Rogers, which seems right to me.

Lastly, Salon did a nice retrospective of his career in 1998, to mark the 30th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. USA Today had an equally nice retrospective in 2001 when Mister Rogers hung up his sweater for the last time on the show.

Rest in peace, Mister Rogers.

UPDATE: Sam Heldman notes that Mister Rogers had an impact on a Supreme Court case as well. As one would expect, he was on the right side of the issue.

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