Andy Rooney

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Andy Rooney
Andy Rooney (cropped).jpg
Rooney in June 2008
BornAndrew Aitken Rooney
(1919-01-14)January 14, 1919
Albany, New York
DiedNovember 4, 2011(2011-11-04) (aged 92)
New York City
Education The Albany Academy
Alma mater Colgate University
Notable worksThe weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" on 60 Minutes
Notable awardsawardEmmy
2003 Lifetime Achievement
1980 "Tanks"
1980 "Grain"
1978 "Who Owns What in America"
1968 "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed"
Years active1942–2011
Marguerite Rooney
(m. 1942;died 2004)
Children4, including Emily

Andrew Aitken Rooney (January 14, 1919 – November 4, 2011) was an American radio and television writer who was best known 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 on October 2, 2011. He died one month later on November 4, 2011 at the age of 92.

<i>60 Minutes</i> American television newsmagazine program

60 Minutes is an American news magazine and television program that is broadcast on the CBS television network. Debuting in 1968, the program was created by Don Hewitt, who chose to set it apart from other news programs by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation. In 2002, 60 Minutes was ranked at No. 6 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and in 2013, it was ranked #24 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time. The New York Times has called it "one of the most esteemed news magazines on American television".


Early life and education

Andrew Aitken Rooney was born in Albany, New York, the son of Walter Scott Rooney (1888–1959) and Ellinor (Reynolds) Rooney (1886–1980). [1] He attended The Albany Academy, [2] and later attended Colgate University in Hamilton in central New York, [3] where he was initiated into the Sigma Chi fraternity, before he was drafted into the United States Army in August 1941.

Albany, New York Capital of New York

Albany is the capital of the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Albany County. Albany is located on the west bank of the Hudson River approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of its confluence with the Mohawk River and approximately 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City.

The Albany Academy

The Albany Academy is an independent college preparatory day school for boys in Albany, New York, USA, enrolling students from Preschool to Grade 12. It was established in 1813 by a charter signed by Mayor Philip Schuyler Van Rensselaer and the city council of Albany. In July 2007, the once separate Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls merged into The Albany Academies. Both schools retain much of their pre-merger tradition and character and each continues to give diplomas under its own name. Tuition ranges from $13,500 for Preschool, up to $23,100 for grade 12.

Colgate University private liberal arts college

Colgate University is a private liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York. Founded in 1817, Colgate enrolls nearly 3,000 students in 56 undergraduate majors that culminate in a Bachelor of Arts degree; it also enrolls a dozen students in a Master of Arts in Teaching program.

World War II

Rooney began his career in newspapers in 1942 while in the Army where he began writing for Stars and Stripes in London. [4] He was one of six correspondents who flew on the second American bombing raid over Germany in February 1943, flying with the Eighth Air Force. [5] He was the first journalist to reach the Ludendorff Bridge after the 9th Armored Division captured it on March 7, 1945. He was 32 km (20 mi) to the west when he heard that the bridge had been captured. [6] [7] [8] "It was a reporter's dream," he wrote. "One of the great stories of the war had fallen into my lap." [9] The bridge capture was front-page news in America. [10] [11] Rooney rated the capture of the bridge as one of the top five events of the entire European war, alongside D-Day. [6]

<i>Stars and Stripes</i> (newspaper) military newspaper

Stars and Stripes is an American military newspaper that focuses and reports on matters concerning the members of the United States Armed Forces. It operates from inside the Department of Defense, but is editorially separate from it, and its First Amendment protection is safeguarded by the United States Congress, to whom an independent ombudsman, who serves the readers' interests, regularly reports. As well as a website, Stars and Stripes publishes four daily print editions for the military service members serving overseas; these European, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and South Korean editions are also available as free downloads in electronic format, and there are also seven digital editions. The newspaper has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Ludendorff Bridge former bridge across the Rhine in Germany

The Ludendorff Bridge was in early March 1945 a critical remaining bridge across the river Rhine in Germany when it was captured during the Battle of Remagen by United States Army forces during the closing weeks of World War II. Built in World War I to help deliver reinforcements and supplies to the German troops on the Western Front, it connected Remagen on the west bank and the village of Erpel on the eastern side between two hills flanking the river.

Battle of Remagen

The Battle of Remagen during the Allied invasion of Germany resulted in the unexpected capture of the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine and shortened World War II in Europe. After capturing the Siegfried Line, the 9th Armored Division of the U.S. First Army had advanced unexpectedly quickly towards the Rhine. They were very surprised to see one of the last bridges across the Rhine still standing. The Germans had wired the bridge with about 2,800 kilograms (6,200 lb) of demolition charges. When they tried to blow it up, only a portion of the explosives detonated. U.S. forces captured the bridge and rapidly expanded their first bridgehead across the Rhine, two weeks before Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's meticulously planned Operation Plunder. The GIs' actions prevented the Germans from regrouping east of the Rhine and consolidating their positions.

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 stated 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.

Nazi concentration camps concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled before and during the Second World War. The first Nazi camps were erected in Germany in March 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his Nazi Party was given control of the police by Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps initially held around 45,000 prisoners. In 1933–1939, before the onset of war, most prisoners consisted of German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of 'asocial' or socially 'deviant' behavior by the Germans.

Tom Brokaw American broadcast journalist

Thomas John Brokaw is an American television journalist and author, best known for being the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years (1982–2004). He is the only person to have hosted all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press. He now serves as a Special Correspondent for NBC News and works on documentaries for other outlets.

The Greatest Generation is a 1998 book by journalist Tom Brokaw that profiles those who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the home front during World War II made a decisive material contribution to the war effort. The book popularized the term "Greatest Generation", which some use to describe the G.I. Generation in the United States.

Rooney was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal and Air Medal for his service as a war correspondent in combat zones during the war. [12] His 1995 memoir My War chronicles his war reporting and recounts several notable historical events and people from a first-hand view, including the entry into Paris and the Nazi concentration camps. He describes how it shaped his experience both as a writer and reporter. [5]

Bronze Star Medal United States military decoration for wartime meritorious service or valor

The Bronze Star Medal, unofficially the Bronze Star, is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

Air Medal military decoration of the United States Military

The Air Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. It was created in 1942 and is awarded for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.


Rooney joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts , [5] 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. It was the beginning of a close lifelong 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 [13] which became a hit program. During the same period, he wrote public affairs programs for CBS News, such as The Twentieth Century .

<i>Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts</i> television series

Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts was an American radio and television variety show which ran on CBS from 1946 until 1958. Sponsored by Lipton Tea, it starred Arthur Godfrey, who was also hosting Arthur Godfrey and His Friends at the same time.

<i>The Garry Moore Show</i> television series

The Garry Moore Show is the name for several separate American variety series on the CBS television network in the 1950s and 1960s. Hosted by experienced radio performer Garry Moore, the series helped launch the careers of many comedic talents, such as Dorothy Loudon, Don Adams, George Gobel, Carol Burnett, Don Knotts, Lee Goodman, James Kirkwood, Jr., and Jonathan Winters. The Garry Moore Show garnered a number of Emmy nominations and wins.

Rooney wrote his first television essay in 1964 called "An Essay on Doors", "a longer-length precursor of the type" that he did on 60 Minutes, according to CBS News's biography of him. [14] From 1962 to 1968, he collaborated with CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner, Rooney writing and producing and Reasoner narrating. They wrote on CBS News specials such as "An Essay on Bridges" (1965), [14] "An Essay on Hotels" (1966), [14] "An Essay on Women" (1967), [14] and "The Strange Case of the English Language" (1968). [14] In 1968, he wrote two episodes of the CBS News documentary series Of Black America, [14] and his script for "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed" won him his first Emmy. [15]

CBS refused to broadcast his World War II memoir entitled "An Essay on War" in 1970, so Rooney quit CBS and read the opinion himself on PBS, which was his first appearance on television. [16] That show in 1971 won him his third Writers Guild Award. [14] He rejoined CBS in 1973 to write and produce special programs. [16] He also wrote the script for the 1975 documentary FDR: The Man Who Changed America.

After his return to the network, Rooney wrote and appeared in several primetime specials for CBS, including In Praise of New York City (1974), [13] the Peabody Award-winning Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington (1975), [13] Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner (1978), [13] and Mr. Rooney Goes to Work (1977). [13] Transcripts of these specials are contained in the book A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, as well as of some of the earlier collaborations with Reasoner.

"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" [5] ), began in 1978, as a summer replacement for the debate segment "Point/Counterpoint" [5] 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 1978–1979 season, "Point/Counterpoint" was dropped altogether. [5]

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, [17] bottled water brands, [18] car brands, [19] sports mascots, [20] 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 had made himself.


Rooney made a number of comments which elicited strong reactions from fans and producers alike.

Comments on race

Rooney wrote a column in 1992 that posited that it was "silly" for Native Americans to complain about team names like the Redskins, in which he wrote in part, "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." After receiving many letters from Native Americans he wrote, "when so many people complain about one thing, you have to assume you may have been wrong". [21]

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." [22]

In the 1940s, Rooney was arrested after sitting in the back of a segregated bus in protest. [23] Also, in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, Rooney applauded the fact that "the citizens of this country, 80% 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." [24]

Comments on same-sex unions

In 1990, Rooney was suspended without pay for three months by then-CBS News President David Burke, because of 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." [25] 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% of its audience. CBS management then decided that it was in the best interest of the network to have Rooney return immediately. [26]

After Rooney's reinstatement, he made his remorse public: [27]

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.

Andy Rooney, Years of Minutes

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 or 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, "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." [28]

On the following Sunday's show, he apologized on the air, saying he should have taken Cobain's depression into account. He also read only critical feedback from listeners without interjecting any commentary of his own. [29] [30]

Collections and retirement

Rooney's shorter television essays have been archived in numerous books, such as Common Nonsense, which came out in 2002, [31] and Years of Minutes , probably his best-known work, released in 2003. [32] He penned a regular syndicated column for Tribune Media Services that ran in many newspapers in the United States, and which has been collected in book form. He won three Emmy Awards for his essays, [33] which numbered over 1,000. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003. [34] 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.[ citation needed ]

Rooney's final regular appearance on 60 Minutes was on October 2, 2011, [35] after 33 years on the show. [36] It was his 1,097th commentary. [37]


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." [38] In a controversial 1999 book, Rooney self-identified as agnostic, [39] but by 2004 he was calling himself an atheist. [40] He reaffirmed this in 2008. [41] 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). [42]

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. [43]

Personal life

Rooney was married to Marguerite "Margie" Rooney (née Howard) for 62 years, until she died of heart failure in 2004. He later wrote, "her name does not appear as often as it originally did [in my essays] because it hurts too much to write it." [44] They had four children: Ellen, Emily, Martha, and Brian. His daughter Emily Rooney is a TV talk show host and former ABC News producer who went on to host a nightly Boston-area public affairs program, Greater Boston, on WGBH. Emily's identical twin, Martha Fishel, became chief of the Public Services Division at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland; her son Justin works as a producer for ABC News. His first daughter, Ellen Rooney, is a former film editor at ABC News and is now a travel and garden photographer based in London. His son, Brian Rooney, has been a correspondent for ABC since the 1980s and lives in Los Angeles.[ citation needed ]

Rooney also had a sister, Nancy Reynolds Rooney (1915–2007).

Rooney lived in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, Connecticut, [45] and in Rensselaerville, New York, [46] and was a longtime season ticket holder for the New York Giants. [47]


Rooney was hospitalized on October 25, 2011, after developing postoperative complications from an undisclosed surgical procedure, [48] and died on November 4, 2011, at the age of 92, less than five weeks after his last appearance on 60 Minutes. [49] [50]



Books written by Rooney:

See also

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