Long-time CBS broadcaster Andy Rooney dead at 92
His commentary a mainstay for millions of viewers Sundays on '60 Minutes'
Rooney also produced for Reasoner at 60 MINUTES during the broadcast’s first few seasons and made his on-screen “debut.” He and the broadcast’s senior producer, Palmer Williams, appeared in silhouette as “Ipso and Facto” in a short-lived opinion segment called “Digressions.” Then, after Reasoner left for ABC in 1970, Rooney also left the Network briefly. Having trouble getting his material on the air, he purchased his “An Essay on War” from CBS and took it to public television to be broadcast on “Great American Dream Machine.” The 1971 program was Rooney’s first appearance as himself on television and won him his third Writers Guild Award. He wrote and produced more essays for the program, appearing in those as well.
He returned to CBS in 1973 after a short stint with Reasoner at ABC News and then wrote, produced and narrated a series of broadcasts for CBS News on various aspects of American life between 1975 and 1989. These included “Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington,” for which he won a Peabody Award, “Andy Rooney Takes Off,” “Mr. Rooney Goes to Work” and “Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner.” He also appeared several times in 1977 and 1978 on 60 MINUTES doing segments that included “Super Salesman,” a look at the relationship between the Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company, the National Retired Teachers Association and the American Association of Retired Persons, in which he suggested the AARP was created as a vehicle to sell insurance to the elderly.
Rooney then was given the job as summer replacement for the Shana Alexander and James J. Kilpatrick “Point/Counterpoint” 60 MINUTES segment. In this first essay, “Three Minutes or so with Andy Rooney,” on July 2, 1978, he attacked the dark tradition of tallying the highway deaths during the holiday weekend. In the fall, “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” became a regular segment, alternating with Alexander and Kilpatrick. The following season (1979-‘80), Rooney had the end of the broadcast to himself, holding forth in front of an audience approaching 40 million – the number-one television program in America.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists recognized Rooney’s rich body of work with its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2003. Rooney was a friend of Pyle, the famous World War II correspondent felled by a sniper, whom he met while covering the war for The Stars and Stripes. The Overseas Press Club honored Rooney with its President’s Award in April 2010 for his war reporting.
Rooney was a rabid New York Giants football fan whose 50-plus years of season tickets began in a seat behind a pole at the Polo Grounds. Attending such public events was often problematic for the recognizable Rooney, who didn’t sign autographs because he thought it a silly endeavor linked to his television fame. Always proud of his writing, he would gladly sign one of his 16 books – provided it was sent to him with a stamped and addressed return envelope. In addition to The Story of the Stars and Stripes, Rooney wrote: Air Gunner; Conquerors' Peace; The Fortunes of War; A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney; And More by Andy Rooney; Pieces of My Mind; Word for Word; Not That You Asked...; Sweet and Sour; My War; Sincerely, Andy Rooney; Common Nonsense; Years of Minutes; Out of My Mind and Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit.
Rooney resided in Manhattan; he also kept a family vacation home in Rensselaerville, N.Y and the first home he ever purchased, in Rowayton, Conn.. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 62 years, Marguerite (nee Howard), in 2004. He is survived by his four children Ellen, a photographer, Brian, the longtime ABC News correspondent, Emily, the original host of “Greater Boston,” a local public affairs television program on PBS, and Martha Fishel, chief of the Public Services division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine; five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by his sister, Nancy.
Funeral services will be private; a memorial service will be announced at a future date.
Following are statements from Andy’s colleagues at 60 MINUTES:
Underneath that gruff exterior, was a prickly interior…and deeper down was a sweet and gentle man, a patriot with a love of all things American, like good bourbon and a delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy.
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