Andy Rooney, who delivered his wry observations on 60 Minutes for 33 years, passed away on Friday 11.04.11 in New York after complications from unspecified minor surgery, reported CBS, after having been in stable condition two weeks prior. Andy Rooney in stable condition after surgery. The kindly or crotchety Curmudgeon; depending on perspective was 92.
Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and 60 Minutes executive producer, said in a statement following Rooney’s death, “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.”
His death comes only a month after he signed off 60 Minutes for the final time with his 1,097th essay, telling viewers, “I’m not retiring. Writers don’t retire and I’ll always be a writer.”
“Words cannot adequately express Andy’s contribution to the world of journalism and the impact he made — as a colleague and a friend — upon everybody at CBS,” CBS CEO Les Moonves said in a statement.
A New York native, Rooney started his journalism career while in the U.S. Army in 1942. He joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and in 1962 started collaborating with CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner on television essays that first aired as specials on the network. Among the subjects: doors, war, women, hotels and bridges. Rooney said Walter Cronkite was on of his best friends and seemed visibly pleased as he said it.
Rooney made a few appearances on 60 Minutes after its 1968 premiere, but it wasn’t until 1978 that CBS debuted “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” in the final slot on 60 Minutes. The typically two-minute segment featured a curmudgeonly Rooney offering his take on simple oddities and mundane topics in life, from bad Christmas presents to his complaint that there are too many kinds of fruit in the world.
Voicing his opinions didn’t come without consequences. In 1990, CBS temporarily suspended Rooney after he said too many “homosexual unions,” among other things, lead to premature death. The suspension was originally three months, but only lasted one month after 60 Minutes‘ ratings declined sans Rooney. Something that must certainly be on the minds now of CBS and 60 Minutes Executives.
Rooney won four Emmys during his career. One of the Emmys was for his essay that revealed there was no Mrs. Smith behind Mrs. Smith Pies. He really was someone who thought about things that never crosses most of our minds and saw the world just a little bit different than most of the rest of us do and said (or wrote it) as he saw it.
In his final essay, Rooney expressed his gratitude for a lucky life and said he wished he could do his essays forever. But he remained his characteristically cranky self until the end. His parting words: “If you do see me in a restaurant, please, just let me eat my dinner.” Living up to his handle as the crotchety Curmudgeon.
Rooney’s wife of 62 years, Marguerite, died in 2004 of heart failure. They are survived by four children, twins Emily and Martha, Ellen and Brian.
Watch his final essay HERE
60 Minutes honored Andy Rooney with a special tribute on Sunday’s episode, 11.06.11, which was hosted by Morley Safer. The piece will close the broadcast — much like how Rooney’s essays have for the past 33 years, just a bit longer.
Rooney delivered his last commentary on Oct. 2, which was preceded by a lengthy sit-down with Safer. Safer noted that Rooney, although from a unique perspective spoke for “every man”. He also noted that most people mellow with age, but not Andy. One of Rooney’s quirks: He did not sign autographs… nor did he answer much of his fan mail.
When Safer asked Rooney if he had it all to do again what would he do. He described the exact job he has been doing on 60 Minutes. What more could any of us ask from life?
It is hard to imagine 60 Minutes without Andy Rooney and many, when Andy announced his retirement, were looking forward to an occasional Rooney special. Now those specials will be aired on the big network in the sky.