27 February 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

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. "He was so genuinely, genuinely kind, a wonderful person," Newell said. "His mission was to work with families and children for television. ... That was his passion, his mission, and he did it from day one." 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.


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