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Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney (January 14, 1919 ‚?? November 4, 2011) was an American radio and television writer. He was most notable for his weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney", a part of the CBS News program 60 Minutes from 1978 to 2011. His final regular appearance on 60 Minutes aired October 2, 2011. He died a little over a month later on November 4 at age 92.
Early Years.¬† Andrew Rooney was born in Albany, New York, the son of Walter Scott Rooney (1888‚??1959) and Ellinor (n√©e Reynolds) Rooney (1886‚??1980). He attended The Albany Academy, and later attended Colgate University in Hamilton in Upstate New York, where he was initiated into the Sigma Chi fraternity, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in August 1941. Rooney began his career in newspapers while in the Army when, in 1942, he began writing for Stars and Stripes in London during World War II.
In February 1943, flying with the Eighth Air Force, he was one of six correspondents who flew on the first American bombing raid over Germany. Later, he was one of the first American journalists to visit the Nazi concentration camps near the end of World War II, and one of the first to write about them. During a segment on Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, Rooney confessed that he had been opposed to World War II because he was a pacifist. He recounted that what he saw in those concentration camps made him ashamed that he had opposed the war and permanently changed his opinions about whether "just wars" exist.
He received a Bronze Star in 1944.¬† The citation stated:
TECHNICIAN FOURTH GRADE ANDREW A. ROONEY ARMY SERIAL NO. 32135400, INFANTRY, UNITED STATES ARMY FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE IN CONNECTION WITH MILITARY OPERATIONS AS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE STARS AND STRIPES, SPECIAL SERVICES DIVISION, ADVANCE SECTION, COMMUNICATIONS ZONE, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS.¬† TECHNICAN FOURTH GRADE ROONEY PENETRATED TO THE HEART OF SAINT LO UNDER SMALL ARMS AND OPEN RANGE ARTILLERY FIRE AND GATHERED, WITHOUT REGARD TO HIS OWN SAFETY, FIRST HAND DESCRIPTIVE MATERIAL FOR A COMPLETE AND ACCURATE SOTRY.¬† ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS HE LIVED WITH THE MOST FORWARD ELEMENTS¬†OF OUR TROOPS TO GATHER THE ACTUAL FACTS FOR HASTY PRESENTATION TO KEEP UNITED STATES SOLDIERS INFORMED.¬† ENTERED MILITARY SERVICE FROM BUFFALO, NEW YORK.
In London, during the war, Mary Hemingway made an accusation of plagiarism against several fellow journalists, including Andy Rooney, although the accusations were proven false.
Rooney's 1995 memoir, My War, chronicles his war reporting. In addition to recounting firsthand several notable historical events and people (including the entry into Paris and the Nazi concentration camps), Rooney describes how it shaped his experience both as a writer and reporter.
CBS Career. Rooney joined CBS in 1949, as a writer for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, when Godfrey was at his peak on CBS radio and TV. It opened the show up to a variety of viewers. The program was a hit, reaching number one in 1952, during Rooney's tenure with the program. It was the beginning of a close life-long friendship between Rooney and Godfrey. He wrote for Godfrey's daytime radio and TV show Arthur Godfrey Time. He later moved on to The Garry Moore Show, which became a hit program. During the same period, he wrote for CBS News public affairs programs such as The Twentieth Century.
According to CBS News's biography of him, "Rooney wrote his first television essay, a longer-length precursor of the type he does on 60 Minutes, in 1964, 'An Essay on Doors.' From 1962 to 1968, he collaborated with another close friend, the late CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner ‚?? Rooney writing and producing, Reasoner narrating ‚?? on such notable CBS News specials as 'An Essay on Bridges' (1965), 'An Essay on Hotels' (1966), 'An Essay on Women' (1967), and 'The Strange Case of the English Language' (1968). 'An Essay on War' (1971) won Rooney his third Writers Guild Award. In 1968, he wrote two CBS News specials in the series 'Of Black America', and his script for 'Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed' won him his first Emmy." Rooney also wrote the script for the 1975 documentary FDR: The Man Who Changed America.
In the 1970s, Rooney wrote and appeared in several prime-time specials for CBS, including In Praise of New York City (1974), the Peabody Award-winning Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington (1975), Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner (1978), and Mr. Rooney Goes to Work (1977). Transcripts of these specials, as well as of some of the earlier collaborations with Reasoner, are contained in the book A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney. Another special, Andy Rooney Takes Off, followed in 1984.
A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney. Rooney's "end-of-show" segment on 60 Minutes, "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" (originally "Three Minutes or So With Andy Rooney"), began in 1978 as a summer replacement for the debate segment "Point/Counterpoint" featuring Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick. The segment proved popular enough with viewers that beginning in the fall of 1978, it was seen in alternate weeks with the debate segment. At the end of the 1978-79 season, "Point/Counterpoint" was dropped altogether.
In the segment, Rooney typically offered satire on a trivial everyday issue, such as the cost of groceries, annoying relatives, or faulty Christmas presents. Rooney's appearances on "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" often included whimsical lists (e.g., types of milk, bottled water brands, car brands, sports mascots, etc.). In later years, his segments became more political as well. Despite being best known for his television presence on 60 Minutes, Rooney always considered himself a writer who incidentally appeared on television behind his famous walnut table, which he made himself.
Rooney's shorter television essays have been archived in numerous books, such as Common Nonsense, which came out in 2002, and Years of Minutes, released in 2003. He pens a regular syndicated column for Tribune Media Services that runs in many newspapers in the United States, and which has been collected in book form. He won three Emmy Awards for his essays, which now number over 1,000. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003. Rooney's renown made him a frequent target of parodies and impersonations by a diverse group of comedic figures, including Frank Caliendo, Rich Little and Beavis.
In 1993, CBS released a two-volume VHS tape set of the best of Rooney's commentaries and field reports, called "The Andy Rooney Television Collection - His Best Minutes." In 2006, CBS released three DVDs of his more recent commentaries, "Andy Rooney On Almost Everything," "Things That Bother Andy Rooney," and "Andy Rooney's Solutions."
Rooney's final regular appearance on 60 Minutes was on October 2, 2011, after 33 years on the show. It was his 1,097th commentary.
Views. He claimed on Larry King Live to have a liberal bias, stating, "There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions." Though in a controversial 1999 book Rooney self-identified as agnostic, in 2008, Rooney said he was an atheist. Over the years, many of his editorials poked fun at the concept of God and organized religion. Increased speculation on this was brought to a head by a series of comments he made regarding Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ (2004).
Though Rooney has been called Irish-American, he once said "I'm proud of my Irish heritage, but I'm not Irish. I'm not even Irish-American. I am American, period."
In 2005, when four people were fired at CBS News perhaps because of the Killian documents controversy, Rooney said, "The people on the front lines got fired while the people most instrumental in getting the broadcast on escaped." Others at CBS had "kept mum" about the controversy.
Racial Remarks. Andy Rooney wrote a column in 1992 that it was "silly" for Native Americans to complain about team names like the Redskins saying, "The real problem is, we took the country away from the Indians, they want it back and we're not going to give it to them. We feel guilty and we'll do what we can for them within reason, but they can't have their country back. Next question."
In a 2007 column for Tribune media services, he wrote, "I know all about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but today's baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me." Rooney later commented, "Yeah, I probably shouldn't have said it, [but] it's a name that seems common in baseball now. I certainly didn't think of it in any derogatory sense."
Rooney always denied that he was a racist. In the 1940s, he was arrested after sitting in the back of a segregated bus in protest. Also, in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, Rooney applauded the fact that "the citizens of this country, 80 percent of whom are white, freely chose to elect a black man as their leader simply because they thought he was the best choice." He said that makes him proud, and that it proves that the country has "come a long way ‚?? a good way."
Suspension by CBS. In 1990, Rooney was suspended without pay for three months by then-CBS News President David Burke, due to the negative publicity around his saying that "too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead to premature death."¬† He wrote an explanatory letter to a gay organization after being ordered not to do so. After only four weeks without Rooney, 60 Minutes lost 20 percent of its audience. CBS management then decided that it was in the best interest of the network to have Rooney return immediately.
After Rooney's reinstatement, he made his remorse public:
‚??There was never a writer who didn't hope that in some small way he was doing good with the words he put down on paper and, while I know it's presumptuous, I've always had in my mind that I was doing some little bit of good. Now, I was to be known for having done, not good, but bad. I'd be known for the rest of my life as a racist bigot and as someone who had made life a little more difficult for homosexuals. I felt terrible about that and I've learned a lot.‚??
Remarks on Kurt Cobain's Suicide. In a 1994 segment, Rooney attracted controversy with his remarks on Kurt Cobain's suicide. He expressed his dismay that the death of Richard Nixon was overshadowed by Cobain's suicide, stating that he had never heard of Cobain nor his band, Nirvana. He went on to say that Cobain's suicide made him angry. "A lot of people would like to have the years left that he threw away," Rooney said. "What's all this nonsense about how terrible life is?" he asked, adding rhetorically to a young woman who had wept at the suicide, "I'd love to relieve the pain you're going through by switching my age for yours." In addition, he asked "What would all these young people be doing if they had real problems like a Depression, World War II or Vietnam?" and commented that "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."
On the following Sunday's show, he apologized on the air, saying he should have taken into account Cobain's depression. He also read only critical feedback from listeners without interjecting any commentary of his own.
Family Life. His wife, Marguerite "Margie" Rooney (n√©e Howard), died in 2004 of heart failure, after 62 years of marriage. Rooney later wrote, "her name does not appear as often as it originally did [in my essays] because it hurts too much to write it." He has four children, including a daughter, Emily Rooney, who is a TV talk show host and former ABC News producer; she currently hosts a nightly Boston-area public affairs program, Greater Boston, on WGBH. Emily's identical twin, Martha, is Chief of the Public Services Division at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. The third daughter, Ellen, is a photographer based in London. His son, Brian Rooney, has been a correspondent for ABC since the 1980s. Rooney was hospitalized on October 25, 2011 for developing postoperative complications. As of October 26, the 92-year-old Rooney was listed as in stable condition.
Rooney lived in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, Connecticut and in Rensselaerville, New York, and was a longtime season ticket holder for the New York Giants.
Rooney died on November 4, 2011 of post-surgical complications. The medical reason for the surgery has not been disclosed, and the Rooney family asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time, notes CBS.
2001 ‚?? Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Books written by Andy Rooney:
A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney, 1981 (ISBN 0-689-11194-0)
The Complete Andy Rooney, 1983 (ISBN 0-446-11219-4)
And More by Andy Rooney, 1985 (ISBN 0-517-40622-5)
Pieces of My Mind, 1986 (ISBN 0-689-11492-3)
The Most of Andy Rooney, 1986 (ISBN 0-689-11864-3)
Word for Word, 1988 (ISBN 0-399-13200-7)
Not That You Asked..., 1989 (ISBN 0-394-57837-6)
Most of Andy Rooney, 1990 (ISBN 0-88365-765-1)
Sweet and Sour, 1992 (ISBN 0-399-13774-2)
My War, 1997 (ISBN 0-517-17986-5)
Sincerely, Andy Rooney, 1999 (ISBN 1-891620-34-7)
Common Nonsense, 2002, (ISBN 1-58648-144-4)
Years of Minutes, 2003 (ISBN 1-58648-211-4)
Out of My Mind, 2006 (ISBN 1-58648-416-8)
60 Years of Wisdom and Wit, 2009 (ISBN 1-58648-773-6)
NEW YORK (AP) ‚?? Andy Rooney so dreaded the day he had to end his signature "60 Minutes" commentaries about life's large and small absurdities that he kept going until he was 92 years old.
Even then, he said he wasn't retiring. Writers never retire. But his life after the end of "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" was short: He died Friday night, according to CBS, only a month after delivering his 1,097th and final televised commentary.
Rooney had gone to the hospital for an undisclosed surgery, but major complications developed and he never recovered.
"Andy always said he wanted to work until the day he died, and he managed to do it, save the last few weeks in the hospital," said his "60 Minutes" colleague, correspondent Steve Kroft.
Rooney talked on "60 Minutes" about what was in the news, and his opinions occasionally got him in trouble. But he was just as likely to discuss the old clothes in his closet, why air travel had become unpleasant and why banks needed to have important-sounding names.
Rooney won one of his four Emmy Awards for a piece on whether there was a real Mrs. Smith who made Mrs. Smith's Pies. As it turned out, there was no Mrs. Smith.
"I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought," Rooney once said. "And they say, 'Hey, yeah!' And they like that."
Looking for something new to punctuate its weekly broadcast, "60 Minutes" aired its first Rooney commentary on July 2, 1978. He complained about people who keep track of how many people die in car accidents on holiday weekends. In fact, he said, the Fourth of July is "one of the safest weekends of the year to be going someplace."
More than three decades later, he was railing about how unpleasant air travel had become. "Let's make a statement to the airlines just to get their attention," he said. "We'll pick a week next year and we'll all agree not to go anywhere for seven days."
In early 2009, as he was about to turn 90, Rooney looked ahead to President Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration with a look at past inaugurations. He told viewers that Calvin Coolidge's 1925 swearing-in was the first to be broadcast on radio, adding, "That may have been the most interesting thing Coolidge ever did."
"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," said Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. president and CEO.
Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer, said "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."
For his final essay, Rooney said that he'd live a life luckier than most.
"I wish I could do this forever. I can't, though," he said.
He said he probably hadn't said anything on "60 Minutes" that most of his viewers didn't already know or hadn't thought. "That's what a writer does," he said. "A writer's job is to tell the truth."
True to his occasional crotchety nature, though, he complained about being famous or bothered by fans. His last wish from fans: If you see him in a restaurant, just let him eat his dinner.
Rooney was a freelance writer in 1949 when he encountered CBS radio star Arthur Godfrey in an elevator and ‚?? with the bluntness millions of people learned about later ‚?? told him his show could use better writing. Godfrey hired him and by 1953, when he moved to TV, Rooney was his only writer.
He wrote for CBS' Garry Moore during the early 1960s before settling into a partnership with Harry Reasoner at CBS News. Given a challenge to write on any topic, he wrote "An Essay on Doors" in 1964, and continued with contemplations on bridges, chairs and women.
"The best work I ever did," Rooney said. "But nobody knows I can do it or ever did it. Nobody knows that I'm a writer and producer. They think I'm this guy on television."
He became such a part of the culture that comic Joe Piscopo satirized Rooney's squeaky voice with the refrain, "Did you ever wonder ..." Rooney never started any of his essays that way. For many years, "60 Minutes" improbably was the most popular program on television and a dose of Rooney was what people came to expect for a knowing smile on the night before they had to go back to work.
Rooney left CBS in 1970 when it refused to air his angry essay about the Vietnam War. He went on TV for the first time, reading the essay on PBS and winning a Writers Guild of America award for it.
He returned to CBS three years later as a writer and producer of specials. Notable among them was the 1975 "Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington," whose lighthearted but serious look at government won him a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.
His words sometimes landed Rooney in hot water. CBS suspended him for three months in 1990 for making racist remarks in an interview, which he denied. Rooney, who was arrested in Florida while in the Army in the 1940s for refusing to leave a seat among blacks on a bus, was hurt deeply by the charge of racism.
Gay rights groups were mad, during the AIDS epidemic, when Rooney mentioned homosexual unions in saying "many of the ills which kill us are self-induced." Indians protested when Rooney suggested Native Americans who made money from casinos weren't doing enough to help their own people.
The Associated Press learned the danger of getting on Rooney's cranky side. In 1996, AP Television Writer Frazier Moore wrote a column suggesting it was time for Rooney to retire. On Rooney's next "60 Minutes" appearance, he invited those who disagreed to make their opinions known. The AP switchboard was flooded by some 7,000 phone calls and countless postcards were sent to the AP mail room.
"Your piece made me mad," Rooney told Moore two years later. "One of my major shortcomings ‚?? I'm vindictive. I don't know why that is. Even in petty things in my life I tend to strike back. It's a lot more pleasurable a sensation than feeling threatened."He was one of television's few voices to strongly oppose the war in Iraq after the George W. Bush administration launched it in 2002. After the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, he said he was chastened by its quick fall but didn't regret his "60 Minutes" commentaries.
"I'm in a position of feeling secure enough so that I can say what I think is right and if so many people think it's wrong that I get fired, well, I've got enough to eat," Rooney said at the time.
Andrew Aitken Rooney was born on Jan. 14, 1919, in Albany, N.Y., and worked as a copy boy on the Albany Knickerbocker News while in high school. College at Colgate University was cut short by World War II, when Rooney worked for Stars and Stripes.
With another former Stars and Stripes staffer, Oram C. Hutton, Rooney wrote four books about the war. They included the 1947 book, "Their Conqueror's Peace: A Report to the American Stockholders," documenting offenses against the Germans by occupying forces.
Rooney and his wife, Marguerite, were married for 62 years before she died of heart failure in 2004. They had four children and lived in New York, with homes in Rowayton, Conn., and upstate New York. Daughter Emily Rooney is a former executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight." Brian was a longtime ABC News correspondent, Ellen a photographer and Martha Fishel is chief of the public service division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.