Newspaper clipping: Vedeneeva and Rogers, 1987 Mr.Rogers from one of the Mr Rogers neighborhood shows, 2003 Mr.Rogers speaks with children, circa 1990s Fred Rogers and his young fans, Jan. 8, 1998 (AP) Mister Rogers learns safety tips on roller skates, 1995

1987: "Fred Rogers and his puppet detente" 

Once known as “the nicest person on television,” Mr. Rogers touched millions of lives. His own life was one for service, as he himself liked to say, “Those of us in broadcasting are servants of those who watch and listen.” For 33 years he wrote and starred in PBS’s  “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Today marks 10 years since Mr. Rogers died of cancer and here are some photographs from the Post-Gazette’s archive, which describe different stages of Mr. Rogers’ career, capture his personality and even tell stories that are not so widely known.

In November 1984, amidst the Cold War, Mr. Rogers was part of what was dubbed “puppet detente.” Tatiana Vedeneeva, host of the Soviet children’s show "Good Night, Little Ones" arrived at the door of Mr. Rogers’ make-believe home in Oakland with an interpreter, gifts of Matryoshka dolls — shiny, painted figures which nest inside each other — and a videotape of how the dolls are made. Tatiana Vedeneeva wore a white blouse and a cream-colored sweater, at which Mr. Rogers later marveled, “Isn’t it nice that she wore a sweater?”

Vedeneeva’s “Good Night, Little Ones” ushered millions of the Soviet children to bed each evening, including yours sincerely, and was as popular among the children of the Soviet Union as “Mr.Rogers’ Neighborhood” was among the American kids.

On the day Vedeneeva visited the WQED studio, she and Mr. Rogers taped a segment together. The program was scheduled to air on Dec. 7, when President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev was due in America to meet with President Reagan. 

Vedeneeva’s appearance marked the first time a non-English-speaking person and an interpreter appeared on the show. “That in itself is interesting for children — and that people can understand one another even in different tongues,” Mr. Rogers concluded during a break in taping.

While the Soviet TV host was at Mr. Rogers’ studio, a message board outside read, in English and Russian, “On the bridge of trust and the rainbow of love, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood welcomes Tatiana Vedeneeva.”

Echoing themes Rogers covered daily on his show, the Soviet TV star said, “Small children will be looking at this show, and they’re going to understand that children around the world are really similar…We all want to get along with one another, we all want friendships, we all want to be cared for.”

Earlier that year, Mr. Rogers visited a studio of “Good Night, Little Ones” in Moscow. He didn’t go there alone. On that trip, he brought a puppet of his own, Daniel Striped Tiger. American viewers saw that clip on March 8, 1985.

The moral of the story, to put it in Mr. Rogers’ words: “Peace means far more than just the opposite of war.” Mr. Rogers’ caring and wisdom transcended every barrier.  As cellist and virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma said in his tribute to Mr. Rogers, “His advocacy for children was truly an advocacy for the human race.”

— Mila Sanina  

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