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'Mister Rogers': 50 Years Since First National Episode

'Mister Rogers': 50 Years Since First National Episode
Fred Rogers, the host of the children's television series "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980s. (Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 19 February 2018 05:35 PM

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” began airing nationally exactly 50 years ago Monday on Feb. 19, 1968, after first airing the program only in Pittsburgh. 

The show aired for more than 30 years on what would become PBS, interspersing conversation with Rogers and “Land of Make-Believe” segments featuring puppets that had problems similar to those children might encounter. 

With his calm demeanor, Rogers talked to children about valuing themselves and how to handle the pressures and problems the world might contain.

Long before “Dora the Explorer” or other interactive kids’ TV shows, Rogers talked directly to children and asked them questions, making them feel like a part of the show.

"Mister Rogers's Neighborhood" dealt with typical childhood fears like falling into the bathtub drain or having a friend be mean, but also used the show to talk about the assassination of JFK and other events children might be exposed to by overhearing parents talk or watching the news.

Rogers started his children’s television career in Pittsburgh, and WQED Multimedia still resides in that city’s Oakland neighborhood.

“He really was the same person off television as he was on television. There was no acting, there was no pretense. ... He had that much heart and that much gentleness,” CEO Deborah Acklin said of Rogers, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

Rogers died in 2003, but his TV company still makes “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” to continue the messages of his long-running show.

A biopic of his life starring Tom Hanks is in development, and a documentary titled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” made a splash at Sundance and will hit theaters in June. 

The first national episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is available on Amazon.

Twitter users commented on Rogers’ legacy and influence through the show 50 years later. 

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Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the first national episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," which began airing Feb. 19, 1968, after first showing only in Pittsburgh.
mister rogers, 50, years, national, debut
Monday, 19 February 2018 05:35 PM
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