Tags: Hollywood | mister rogers | tom hanks | a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Mister Rogers' Widow Shares Her Favorite Memories

Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers is shown during a taping of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" in 1989. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

By    |   Friday, 08 November 2019 12:51 PM

Fred Rogers took the world by storm when he appeared as the host of the beloved children's television series "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." The show ran from 1968 to 2001 and Fred remained in the spotlight until the day he died in 2003 from stomach cancer at age 74.

Despite the fame, he remained a humble and kind family man, said his wife of 50 years, Joanne Rogers, in an interview with People published this week.

Fred was so loyal to his wife and two sons that he even turned down an invitation from the president because it fell on the day of his wedding anniversary. Joanne recalled that day vividly.

"When the White House called to tell Fred he was getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom [in 2002], the man said, 'The president would like to give you a very special award, on July 9,'" she said. "And Fred said, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, I won't be able to make it. That's our 50th wedding anniversary.'"

The White House official countered by inviting the family to mark the occasion at the White House.

"The man said, 'Wonderful. You'll all come celebrate here!' We did, and it was very special," Joanne said.

Part of Fred's charm was how much he valued other people and put their needs first. Simply put, "people were important to him," Joanne said.

"If Fred found out a friend was ill, he would make regular calls and visit," she said. "When a high school friend in South Carolina had cancer, Fred went, even though he had hurt his ankle and was on crutches. It was very important to Fred to be there."

Fred was also an entertainer at heart and brought joy and laughter into his home through his music.

"When our sons James and John would get a little rambunctious, or it was a rainy day and nobody knew what to do, Fred would say, 'Let’s have a parade!' He'd go to the piano and play and they'd march around," Joanne said. "Music almost always put everyone in a good mood."

Fred is the subject of a new biographical drama, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," which stars Tom Hanks, who Fred regarded highly.

"One of the most wonderful things about this film is that Tom Hanks is playing Fred Rogers. Fred Rogers was a huge fan of Tom Hanks," Joanne said in a separate interview with People this week, adding that Hanks looked "adorable" as her husband.

"I think he would like this very much," she continued. "There's a wonderful energy there. It's a very needful film right now."

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Fred Rogers took the world by storm when he appeared as the host of the beloved children's television series "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." His wife is now speaking out about his devotion to his family and friends.
mister rogers, tom hanks, a beautiful day in the neighborhood
Friday, 08 November 2019 12:51 PM
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