Andy Rooney Dies at 92
UPDATED: The television veteran spent 41 years at "60 Minutes" and delivered his final commentary just four weeks ago.
Andy Rooney, the 60 Minutes comedic curmudgeon who delighted TV audiences with his wry observations on life's little annoyances for 33 years, has died, CBS News announced on its website early Saturday. He was 92.
Rooney died in a New York hospital Friday night after developing serious complications following minor surgery. CBS did not divulge further details.
“Words cannot adequately express Andy’s contribution to the world of journalism and the impact he made--as a colleague and friend--upon everyone at CBS,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation. “His wry wit, his unique ability to capture the essence of any issue, and his larger-than-life personality made him an icon, not only within the industry but among readers and viewers around the globe. Andy was not just a member of the CBS family; he was a member of the world's family. We treasure the legacy he has left, and his presence will be sorely missed by those of us at CBS and by his fans around the world.”
"It's a sad day at 60 Minutes and for everybody here at CBS News," said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of 60 Minutes. "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."
Known for his sometimes-controversial essays and droll take on the everyday, Rooney became a regular on 60 Minutes in 1970. His individualistic reports, dubbed "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney," became a regular feature in 1978.
On Oct. 2, he delivered his 1,097th and final essay, saying it was a moment he dreaded. "I wish I could do this forever. I can't, though," he said.
Rooney, who wrote for MGM and TV's The Garry Moore Show and had a long partnership with fellow CBS newsman Harry Reasoner, won Emmy Awards in 1979, 1981 and 1982 for his essays (one was about whether there was a real Mrs. Smith behind Mrs. Smith's Pies).
He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003 and won six WGA Awards for best script of the year.
Rooney was presented a Peabody Award for a series of Americana broadcasts, which he wrote, produced and directed, including: Andy Rooney Takes Off, Mr. Rooney Goes to Work, Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner and Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington.
While amusing, Rooney could hit a few nerves.
In 1994, he took on Generation X when he voiced his displeasure with how Kurt Cobain's suicide was overshadowing the death of Richard Nixon. "A lot of people would like to have the years left that [Cobain] threw away," Rooney said. He also commented, "If [Cobain] applied the same brain to his music that he applied to his drug-infested life, it's reasonable to think that his music may not have made much sense either." He apologized on the air the following week.
In 2002, he irked some viewers and the National Organization for Women when he said that female sideline reporters have no business making comments about football games. He said it was "silly" for Native Americans to complain about team names like the Redskins and wrote in a 2007 column for Tribune that "today's baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me."
CBS suspended him for three months in 1990 when he allegedly said "homosexual unions" lead to premature death.
In addition to his work for 60 Minutes and Tribune, Rooney contributed numerous articles to Esquire, Life, Look, Reader's Digest, Harper's, Playboy, Saturday Review and other magazines and authored more than a dozen books, most recently Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit in 2010.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists recognized his body of work when he was presented with its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2003. Rooney was a friend of Pyle, a famous World War II correspondent who was killed by a sniper in the war.
Andrew Rooney was born Jan. 14, 1919, in Albany, N.Y. He attended Colgate University until he was drafted into the Army in 1941. He served as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes and, as a member of the "Writing 69th" was one of six correspondents who flew with the Eighth Air Force on the first U.S. bombing raid over Germany in February 1943.
One of his books, The Story of the Stars and Stripes, which he co-wrote with Bud Hutton after three years as a war correspondent, was published in 1946 and purchased by MGM. Rooney worked on that and other projects at the studio.
On the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, Rooney reported on D-Day veterans en route to France aboard the Queen Elizabeth II for CBS News' Sunday Morning.
Rooney joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and wrote for The Garry Moore Show starting in the late '50s. Simultaneously, he also wrote for such CBS News public affairs broadcasts as The Twentieth Century, News of America, Calendar and The Morning Show With Will Rogers Jr.
Rooney wrote his first TV essay, "An Essay on Doors," a slightly longer precursor of the types he did on 60 Minutes, in 1964. He collaborated with the CBS news correspondent Reasoner from 1962-68; Rooney wrote and produced and Reasoner narrated such CBS News Specials as An Essay on Bridges (1965), An Essay on Hotels (1966), An Essay on Women (1967), An Essay on Chairs (1968) and The Strange Case of the English Language (1968).
Rooney's wife, Marguerite, died in 2004 of heart failure. The couple had four children. Rooney had homes in New York City, Rensseleaerville, N.Y. and Rowayton, Conn.