Andy Rooney Signs Off '60 Minutes' for Last Time: 'This Is a Moment I Have Dreaded'

Andy Rooney Headshot - P 2011
Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Andy Rooney Headshot - P 2011

The 92-year-old TV icon thanked fans for their support -- but also made a plea to would-be autograph seekers -- in his appearance on CBS' newsmagazine Sunday night.

Andy Rooney told viewers in his final 60 Minutes commentary Sunday night that his retirement was a moment he wasn't looking forward to.

"This is a moment I have dreaded," he said. "I wish I could do this forever."

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In an essay titled "My Lucky Life," Rooney told viewers about his time writing for the Army newspaper the Stars and Stripes during World War II. He said he decided to pursue a radio and TV career because he thought the "written word" was being ignored.

Still, he had to continue writing his own pieces -- and has been earning a living as a writer for 70 years.

"When I went on television it was as a writer," he said. "I don't think of myself as a television personality. I'm a writer who reads what he's written."

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Rooney claimed he probably hasn't ever said anything original as there "aren't too many original thoughts in the world." He also admitted he's probably been wrong at times but feels like he's "been right more than I've been wrong."

He added that he also pays attention to the reactions to his essays.

"I may have given the impression that I don't care what anyone else thinks, but I do care," he said. "I care a lot. I have always hoped people will like what I've written. Being liked is nice but it's not my intent."

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He went on to thank fans for their support. But Rooney, who revealed in 60 Minutes that he doesn't like to sign autographs, admitted that he hates being recognized while out and about.

He ended his last segment with a plea to viewers: "If you do see me in a restaurant, please, just let me eat my dinner."

The 92-year-old TV icon announced Tuesday that he would make his last regular appearance on the CBS newsmagazine this weekend, after more than 1,000 broadcasts.

Rooney's “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney” segment has been a fixture on the show since 1978. Sunday night's essay was preceded by a career retrospective interview with correspondent Morley Safer.

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"There’s nobody like Andy and there never will be," Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer, said Tuesday. "He’ll hate hearing this, but he’s an American original. His contributions to 60 Minutes are immeasurable; he’s also a great friend."

Rooney actually has been at 60 Minutes since Don Hewitt conceived the show in 1968; he wrote and produced segments for Harry Reasoner.

While Rooney is not likely to be replaced, his rants have come to be a staple of the program. They have ranged from his expressing concern because he had no idea who Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or any of the bands are that are dominating the Billboard charts to wondering if Bill Gates and Microsoft were making our lives harder.

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Sunday night marked Rooney’s 1,097th appearance on 60 Minutes. He will still make occasional appearances on the show.

"It’s harder for him to do it every week," Fager said. "But he will always have the ability to speak his mind on 60 Minutes when the urge hits him.”

60 Minutes airs at 7 p.m. Sundays.