Andy Rooney, Longtime 60 Minutes Fixture
During his 30-plus years with the CBS Sunday-night mainstay, Rooney sounded off on an array of topics, defining a genre with his clever, frequently cranky, on-air essays.
Andy Rooney, a writer and commentator best known for his comical, clever and often cranky remarks at the end of the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes for 33 years, died November 4, 2011, at a hospital in New York City. He was 92.
According to news reports, Rooney died due to complications following an undisclosed surgical procedure.
Rooney’s sign-off essays on the Sunday-night mainstay seemed a genre unto themselves — he would use the space to unfurl his views on seemingly any topic, including consumer marketing, the idiosyncrasies of human behavior, sports, music, fashion and much more.
Born January 14, 1919, in Albany, New York, Rooney worked briefly as a copy boy for The Knickerbocker News before attending Colgate University, where he played on the football team and worked for the weekly newspaper, The Colgate Maroon.
Three months before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Rooney was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his service he became a sergeant and flew on some bombing missions. He also worked for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, where he acquired reporting skills from such colleagues as working with journalists like Homer Bigart, Ernie Pyle and Walter Cronkite.
His service inspired two books, which he co-wrote with Bud Hutton: Air Gunner a 1944 collection of pieces about Americans who had been stationed in Great Britain, and The Story of the Stars and Stripes, published in 1946.
In 1949, Rooney joined CBS as a writer for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Beginning in 1962, he had a six-year association with CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner, who delivered commentaries written by Rooney.
Rooney delivered his first 60 Minutes essay in 1978, and began speaking in the final minutes of the broadcast the following year.
On October 2 of this year, Rooney announced that he would no longer appear regularly on 60 Minutes. The show ended its November 6 broadcast with a tribute segment to Rooney led by Morley Safer.
In a statement, Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of 60 Minutes, said, “It’s a sad day at 60 Minutes and for everybody here at CBS News. It’s hard to imagine not having Andy around. He loved his life and he lived it on his own terms. We will miss him very much.”
In addition to his work for 60 Minutes, Rooney had a national newspaper column and wrote numerous other books.
Rooney’s wife, Marguerite, died in 2004. He is survived by three daughters, a son, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Comprehensive obituaries were published at:
Andy Rooney had the distinction of being interviewed by the Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television. During the interview, conducted on June 22, 1999, in New York City, by Don Carleton, Rooney spoke about his long career as a writer and producer for television.
Rooney detailed his roots as a journalist writing for The Stars and Stripes during World War II. He also talked about his entrance into radio and television as a staff writer for Arthur Godfrey and later on television’s The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr. and The Seven Lively Arts.
He went on to describe his shift to the nonfiction form working on such CBS series as The Twentieth Century and Calendar. It was on the latter series that Rooney first worked with newsman Harry Reasoner. He spoke in detail about the many CBS documentary specials the two collaborated on (Rooney as writer, Reasoner as narrator) including: An Essay on Doors (1964), A Bird's Eye View of America (1964), and The Strange Case of the English Language (1968).
In addition, Rooney talked about several other documentaries in which he contributed as a producer, writer, or a combination of the two including: Sinatra (1965, re-shown on CBS in 1998) and Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed (1968, Emmy winner).
He then talked about his long association with 60 Minutes, which began in 1968 when he wrote and appeared in (in silhouette) the recurring segment “Digressions,” a tongue-in-check 30-second “debate” on current events. He talked about his temporary break with CBS when the network refused to air an anti-Vietnam War piece An Essay on War, and the subsequent airing of it on PBS’s The Great American Dream Machine.
Rooney also described several documentaries he made for ABC and CBS in the 1970s including: A Small Town in Iowa, Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington and Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner.
Finally, he spoke of his work writing and appearing in “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney,” the literate and often cantankerous essays on everyday life that appeared as an end-of-the program tag to 60 Minutes, a spot he occupied since 1978.
His full interview is available here.