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Plans for a memorial service honoring the life's work of Fred Rogers will be announced today by Family Communications Inc., the company Rogers founded.
Scheduled for 2:30 p.m. May 3 at Heinz Hall, Downtown, the 90-minute service will be broadcast live on WQED-TV and WPXI-TV and will be simulcast on WQED-FM and on the Internet at www.wqed.org/fm under the "Listen Now" link.
The service will be led by the Rev. William Barker, a retired Presbyterian minister formerly of Pittsburgh, who appeared in an episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and operated some of the Platypus puppets. He was a close friend of Rogers.
Associate producer Hedda Sharapan said the service will include a performance by nationally acclaimed organist Alan Morrison, another friend of the Rogers family. Speakers will include clergy, colleagues and friends who have had a longtime association with Fred Rogers and his family.
As a way to honor Rogers' appreciation of family relationships and connections between "neighbors" and because the demand for tickets may be overwhelming, Sharapan suggested people may want to gather to watch the televised service with family or friends.
"Because this will be a memorial service, parents or youth group leaders may want to choose this more informal setting as an appropriate way to include children," Sharapan said.
Free tickets to the service for the public are available on a first-come, first-served basis in order of postmark. Seating is limited and no more than two tickets will be issued per request. All attendees must have a ticket to get in.
For ticket requests, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Family Communications., Inc., 4802 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Sharapan asked that people write "MEMORIAL TICKETS" on the outside of the envelope and specify one or two tickets. Please indicate if handicapped accessibility is required. All requests must be postmarked no later than April 23.
Rogers, host of PBS's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," died Feb. 27 after a brief battle with stomach cancer.
I've never seen Mr. Rogers on tv, because I live in the Netherlands, but I can understand the pain his death has brougth. A few years ago LEx Goudsmit died of old age. Lex was sort of the Dutch Mr. Rogers. He was part of the dutch sesame streett (sesamstraat) and he had a wonderful ability to tell stories and he ahd a lovely singingvoice. He was the grandfather I never had. It was a great shock to me when he died, because he had simply always been there my whole life. So even though I don't know Mr. Rogers I sympathise with you.
Actually, leliebel, I wouldn't watch Mr. Rogers, nor would my kids. I personally felt he talked "down" to them, unlike the characters on Sesame Street, who treated children like human beings. But he was from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, so they are going all out for his memorials and such. Michael Keaton got his start working on Mr. Roger's television show a number of years ago...
You know, I can't recall any city going this overboard when Jim Henson passed on, or when any of the people from Sesame Street passed away. In fact, I can't really remember anyone going this nuts over Sheri Lewis, and she was pretty great in my books! I loved Lambchop, Charlie Horse and Hushpuppie. I grew up with them, as well as Captain Kangaroo and the lady from Romper Room (okay, I was only about 3, but still, she said my name on televison!)...
When the gentleman who played Gordon passed away unexpectedly on Sesame Street, I thought my heart would break, but no one said anything about having a big memorial service for him, or even reported much about it nation-wide. The same when David died years ago, and the gentleman who played Mr. Hooper. I was so glad that Sesame Street mentions Mr. Hooper once in a while, and that they did an entire show about his passing...at least THEY knew that the kids would miss him dreadfully...
I guess it just depends upon who you are and where you lived. If you were Mr. Rogers and you lived in Pittsburgh, you get a big memorial.
If you are someone else...the media doesn't really do much except notice your passing and leave it at that...
(who may be spewing some sour grapes about the lack of respect that she feels Jim and his gang at Henson and Creature Workshop and CTW seem to get from the media...)
Listen, I wasn't a Mister Roger's fan either but, it is sad when anyone dies and this is a man who dedicated himself to teaching children. What kind of cold hearted person would gripe about someone being missed enough to get a memorial service?!
Jim Henson got HUGE media coverage at the time of his passing. I don't see any more or less being done for him than Mr. Rogers. In fact, Mr. Rogers only got one big memorial; Jim got two (one in NY and one in England).
The reason why the other people don't get as much media attention is because they weren't the figureheads of the enterprise. Undoubtedly, there have been supporting actors from beloved 1950s sitcoms who have passed away with relatively little fanfare. If we tried to mourn every single person important to a production with exactly the same amount of hoopla, we'd never stop mourning.
Jim Henson, Walt Disney, Mr. Rogers...these are all important figureheads of their company. As important as Richard Hunt is to us, he wasn't known by most people, and there are plenty of Disney animators and voice-over artists, for instance, who've recieved little attention when they passed away. It's not intended to be mean; but those are who are more well-known will simply recieve more attention.
I agree that Jim and JHC and Creature Shop and Sesame Workshop don't always get the respect they're due from the media, but I don't think this is a case of that.
wolfy, I think your sort of missing the point. Even though not everybody liked him, there are still a lot who did and some of them have posted in this thread, I simple wanted to offer my condolences of some sort to those who can use the support.
I'm not saying that the man shouldn't have his memorial for the people who miss him, especially the children! I'm all for that, honestly...
What I'm not crazy about is the way that Pittsburgh has gone totally nuts over this whole thing (and if you lived in this area you would understand what I mean about "gone totally nuts").
I am not trying to be disrespective to him, even though I didn't personally care for him or his show. I truly felt that he spoke down to the children a lot, but having been in this area for a while I have come to find out that MOST adults feel that children have to be talked "down" to...why, I don't know; maybe it's just their way here...
I never heard about any of the large memorial services in NY or in Europe for Jim Henson. In fact, I never heard anything past his family making a statement thanking all his fans for their thoughts, prayers and so forth, but I was quite busy at the time with college, a five year old son and living on our own, so I may have missed the time they had it on television.
I do believe, though, had there be anything as remotely as huge about Jim's memorial as there has been about Mr. Roger's memorial, though, I would have seen it and let my son watch it on TV if it were televised. He was quite upset that Jim died on his 5th birthday...he always admired Jim Henson, and still feels sad about it to this day. Even though he is happy he is a year older, he will always say something about Jim's passing during the day. He's a good kid...
Also, since I am the one who has been keeping people posted about the upcoming memorial service that is open to the public for Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh in May, how can I be "cold hearted?"
Just because I don't care for someone personally doesn't make me the villian in this matter for not liking them. I am sorry the man passed away. Really. He was a pioneer in his time.
But there are many pioneers in Public Television. Jim Henson was definitely one of them, and I mourn his passing to this day.
I guess what got me upset was all the "Mr. Rogers is the only one" kind of stories that this area was putting out...Guess I should have realized that this is a "home boy makes good" kind of story area, so of course they would go way overboard about someone like Mr. Rogers...
Heck, they still claim Christine Agulira (sp?) even though she will not speak about her time in Pittsburgh, and they take pride in the fact that Jenna on "Survivor" is "a hometown girl."