New images of Mister Rogers’ ‘Neighborhood’ on eve of film

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Fred Rogers works with Lady Elaine Fairchilde, one of the puppets featured in the Land of Make-believe, on his children’s television program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” in Pittsburgh on June 27, 1993. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

From 1984 through 2000, I had the privilege of spending countless hours documenting a very special neighbor, Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

A more kind and caring neighbor there never was or will be. Whether working behind the set with his puppets, feeding his fish, pulling on his cardigan or talking to a young AP photographer about his kids between takes, Mister Rogers had a message: We are all special, just the way we are.

Fred Rogers works with Donkey Hodie, one of the puppets featured on his children’s television program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” in Pittsburgh on June 27, 1993. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

During those extended visits on the sets, we had time to talk. He was into cameras and photography. Obviously, he was very comfortable being in front of the camera and I think he was a very visual person. The people who worked with him for years and years were absolutely like a family. When you were in that studio with them, you were witnessing a family. It was a family going about their business and their business was making a television show for kids.

The days I spent photographing in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” remain some of the greatest days of my 41-year career at the AP.

Fred Rogers tapes a segment of his television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in Pittsburgh on June 28, 1989. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fred Rogers puts on his jacket between takes on the set of his television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in Pittsburgh on June 8, 1993. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fred Rogers, right, talks with David Newell, a.k.a. Speedy Delivery’s Mr. McFeely, during a rehearsal, June 8, 1993. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fred Rogers makes notes between takes, June 28, 1989. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

This photo shows Fred Rogers between takes on a segment of his television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in Pittsburgh on June 8, 1993. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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