Joanne Rogers, wife of beloved television personality Fred Rogers, has passed away. She was married to the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood host, who died in 2003, for more than 50 years. She supported her husband throughout the years of his career and built a family with him, but also known as an advocate for the arts in general. She was 92-years-old at the time of her death.
The death of Joanne Rogers was confirmed by Fred Rogers Productions (via Twitter), which said in a statement:
Joanne Rogers was born Sara Joanne Byrd in Jacksonville, Florida in 1928, and would go on to attend Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida to study piano and meet her future husband, Fred. They married in 1952. Joanne Rogers ultimately went to graduate school at Florida State University, and continued her work as a classically trained concert pianist even in the decades after her marriage.
Joanne and Fred Rogers were parents to two sons, James and John, with James Rogers telling The New York Times back in late 2019 that his mother was "always able to be Joanne Rogers as opposed to Mrs. Fred Rogers" and was always "her own person." In the years following her husband's death from stomach cancer in 2003, she continued to work to spread the messages of kindness and outreach that her husband had imparted on generations of children who watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
In fact, Joanne Rogers, who had actually appeared in multiple episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, was consulted on the critically-acclaimed Won't You Be My Neighbor? documentary about Fred Rogers that released in 2018. When the Tom Hanks film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood based on her husband's work was filming, she visited the set and even appeared in the movie as an extra, later sharing her feelings about the movie.
In honoring Joanne Rogers in the wake of her death, the Fred Rogers Center shared some touching images of her and her husband. Take a look:
At the time of writing, no details are publicly available about the circumstances of Joanne Rogers' death. Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend are with her family, friends, and loved ones in this difficult time.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).