Peggy Charren, a leader in children’s television in America and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died in her home on Thursday at age 86.
Her daughter, Deborah Charren Diehl, told The Boston Globe Charren had been suffering from vascular dementia.
Her frustration with the often violent and rarely educational offerings for children’s television led her to co-found the nonprofit Action for Children’s Television in 1968. The organization’s work through the decades led to the Children’s Television Act of 1990, which required stations to educational children’s programming and limited the amount of advertisements airing during these shows.
“Peggy Charren was TVs first true kids’ advocate and someone who we profoundly respected,” Nickelodeon said in a statement to EW on Thursday. “She was a pioneer who transformed the TV landscape to serve kids with high quality programming. Her legacy is one that we will always honor and uphold.”
Charren received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995, as well as Emmy and Peabody awards. She was also awarded honorary degrees from over a dozen universities and recognition from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Annenberg Public Policy Center, and the International Women’s Forum.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Charren’s friend and ally, US Senator Edward Markey, remembered her as “a warrior, but a happy warrior,” and “the kind of advocate-witness who would bring along Big Bird to a Capitol Hill committee hearing where she was testifying.”