Joanne Rogers, an accomplished concert pianist and wife of beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers, has died at the age of 92.
Joanne and Fred married in 1952 and remained so until his death in 2003. Following her husband’s passing, Joanne took on the role as chair emerita for Fred Rogers Productions. Joanne was also heavily featured in the acclaimed 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and was involved in the making of the Tom Hanks-starring feature film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, in which she was played by Maryann Plunkett. She also had a small cameo in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Fred Rogers Productions released a statement confirming Joanne’s passing on Thursday:
“Fred Rogers Productions is deeply saddened by the passing of Joanne Rogers. The loving partner of Fred Rogers for more than 50 years, she continued their shared commitment to supporting children and families after his death as chair of the board of Fred Rogers Productions. Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her.”
Joanne voiced characters for Fred’s first-ever children’s show, The Children’s Corner, and later made guest appearances on Fred’s widely popular Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. All the while, however, Joanne pursued her own passion in music. According to the New York Times, she played over 300 concerts and recorded a pair of albums with her longtime collaborator, Jeannine Morrison.
Last year, Joanne made headlines when she spoke out against Donald Trump following a visit to Fred’s hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Joanne described Trump as a “horrible person” and “pathologically ill.”
(2/2) Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her. pic.twitter.com/aPx9mGwhzc
— Fred Rogers Productions (@FredRogersPro) January 14, 2021