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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 morning Feb 27 2003 at his Pittsburgh home He was 74 Rogers was born in Latrobe 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh Early in his career Rogers was an unseen puppeteer in The Childrens Corner a local show he helped launch at WQED in 1954 In seven years of unscripted live television he developed many of the puppets used in his later show including King Friday XIII and Curious X the Owl He was ordained in 1963 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through television That same year Rogers accepted an offer to develop Misterogers his own 15-minute show for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp He brought the show back to Pittsburgh in 1966 incorporating segments of the CBC show into a new series distributed by the Eastern Educational Network to cities including Boston Philadelphia and Washington In 1968 Mister Rogers Neighborhood began distribution across the country through National Educational Television which later became the Public Broadcasting Service From 1968 to 2000 Rogers 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 composed his own songs for the show and began each episode in a set made to look like a comfortable living room singing Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood as he donned sneakers and a zip-up cardigan I have really never considered myself a TV star Rogers said in a 1995 interview I always thought I was a neighbor who just came in for a visit His message remained simple telling his viewers to love themselves and others On each show he would take his audience on a magical trolley ride into the
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