Andy Rooney

Active - 2004 - 2007  |   Born - Jan 14, 1919 in Albany, New York, United States  |   Died - Nov 4, 2011   |   Genres - Culture & Society, Comedy, History

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Biography by Nathan Southern

Like Mike Wallace and Morley Safer, Andy Rooney was inextricable from 60 Minutes in the minds of the American populace. Rooney stood apart from those colleagues, however, thanks to the sheer uniqueness of his regular contributions. For decades, Rooney brought a series of reflective witticisms to the news magazine with his famous segment "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" -- a colorful (and highly editorialized) epilogue response to the events chronicled on each broadcast. Originally added on opposite weeks, to offset the "Point/Counterpoint" debate segment, Rooney's monologues (which commenced with the debut of the 1978-1979 season) helped make the popularity of 60 Minutes skyrocket -- to the number one spot in all of prime-time television, in fact. Though occasionally controversial, the segments netted several Emmys for Rooney.

A television personality if ever there were one, Rooney nonetheless regarded himself as a writer by trade. He began life on January 14, 1919, in Albany, NY, and enrolled in Colgate University, then flew bombing raids over Germany in World War II. During his thirties and fourties, he wrote for television in sundry capacities, on such series as Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and The Garry Moore Show, and on CBS News public-affairs programs. From 1962 through 1968, Rooney teamed up with future 60 Minutes co-star Harry Reasoner to create a series of "television essays," on diverse topics ranging from women to chairs to hotels to bridges. In the late '60s, Rooney also wrote two acclaimed CBS News specials on the African-American experience, as part of the series entitled "Of Black America."

When Reasoner joined 60 Minutes as a correspondent from 1968 to 1970 (he would eventually return for another 13 year stint, starting in 1978), Rooney produced a number of his documentary segments. On the side, Rooney also wrote, produced, and headlined such seriocomic, thought-provoking specials for CBS News as the Peabody Award-winning Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington (1975) and Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner (1976). In addition to his CBS News work, Andy Rooney authored and published a myriad of books, including The Fortunes of War (1962), Sweet and Sour (1992), and Common Nonsense (2002).

Rooney announced his retirement from 60 Minutes in October 2011, and died just a month later after suffering complications from minor surgery.

Factsheet

  • Began his journalism career in the Army after being drafted in 1941. In 1943, he was one of six correspondents who flew with the Eighth Air Force on the first American bombing raid over Germany. Worked as a writer on the popular radio show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in 1949 and later on television for The Garry Moore Show. His CBS News special Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington won a Peabody award in 1975. His support of striking members of the Writers Guild of America and refusal to appear on-air resulted in a salary freeze by CBS in 1987. A friend of slain World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, he was bestowed a lifetime achievement award named in Pyle's honor by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in June 2003. Received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003. Won the Best Script of the Year award from the Writers Guild of America multiple times.