NEW YORK (CBS) – Andy Rooney, one of the giants of CBS News, died Friday night in a hospital in New York City from complications following minor surgery. He was 92.
The long-time fixture on “60 Minutes” delivered his final commentary for the program early last month. He had been a regular on the news magazine show since 1978.
According to his daughter, Emily Rooney, current host of Greater Boston on Boston’s Public Broadcast Station, Andy worked right up until the end.
“He was slowing down in a lot of ways physically and had a couple of other ailments. He was still going into the office every day and was planning to write some other things so it really was totally unrelated to his so-called retirement,” she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
His son Brian says Andy Rooney loved his life more than anything and that he never wanted it to end.
“He wanted to live more than anybody I ever knew and he couldn’t imagine that it all had to end,” son Brian Rooney told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “He thought if he could get up and go to work every day and have a bourbon every night, life would never end.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports
For almost three decades, Rooney let his audience know exactly what he thought.
“Advertising makes the world go round, no doubt about it,” Rooney said in 2003. “It pays my salary but we don’t want it in our face all day.”
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Sunday nights, millions watched Rooney’s signature end piece on ”60 Minutes.”
“I hate a package that’s smarter than I am and harder to open than a bank vault,” he said in 1989.
Mostly light-hearted, Rooney’s essays were wry, humorous and sometimes controversial. Occasionally, his comments got him into trouble.
“Too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes. They’re all known to lead quite often to premature death,” Rooney said in 1989.
Amid fallout from that remark, CBS News suspended Rooney in 1990. But his fans stood by him and the ratings on “60 Minutes” dropped 20 percent in his absence. He was back on the air in a month.
“Yeah, I do get a lot of flack, but the best thing that happens to me is when people come up to me in the hall and say, ‘Hey, right on, Andy. Boy, do I wish I said that.’ It makes me feel very good,” he said.
Rooney always considered himself a writer who appeared on television. He began his career in newspapers, writing for the “Stars and Stripes” during World War II.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mike Macklin interviewed Rooney’s daughter Emily Rooney and son Brian Rooney:
Emily Rooney Interview Part 1
Emily Rooney Interview Part 2
Emily Rooney Interview Part 3
Brian Rooney Interview Part 1
Brian Rooney Interview Part 2
Andy Rooney was one of the first American journalists to visit Nazi death camps and he reported from Omaha Beach after D-Day.
“Bodies all float face down. The things I learned I’d rather I didn’t know,” Rooney said.
After the war, he found work as freelance and television script writer. He then joined, where he wrote, produced and narrated a series for CBS News on American Life, including Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington. For that he won a Peabody award.
During the first few seasons of 60 Minutes, he was a producer for Harry Reasoner.
The author of several books, a syndicated newspaper columnist and the winner of four Emmy Awards, Rooney could seem indifferent to the spotlight and willing to bite the hand that fed him.
“Considering how mediocre television is most of the time, it’s just amazing how many awards have been given to it for excellence,” he said in 1979.
Rooney delivered his 1,097th and final commentary for “60 Minutes” on Oct. 2.
“I wish I could do this forever. I can’t, though,” he said.
In his farewell piece, Rooney said that he has lived a lucky life, luckier than most. But befitting his trademark crotchety nature, he voiced one parting complaint: He never liked being famous, nor did he like being bothered by fans.
“I spent my first 50 years trying to become well-known as a writer and the next 30 trying to avoid being famous,” he said.
He said he’s probably never said anything on the program that 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.”
Rooney and his wife, Marguerite, had four children.
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