Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney

Rooney in June 2008
Born Andrew Aitken Rooney
(1919-01-14)January 14, 1919
Albany, New York, U.S.[1]
Died November 4, 2011(2011-11-04) (aged 92)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Education The Albany Academy
Alma mater Colgate University[1]
Period 1949–2011
Notable works The weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" on 60 Minutes
Notable awards Emmy
2003 Lifetime Achievement
1980 "Tanks"
1980 "Grain"
1978 "Who Owns What in America"
1968 "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed"
Years active 1942-2011
Spouse Marguerite Rooney (m. 1942–2004) (her death)
Children Brian, Emily, Martha, Ellen

Andrew Aitken "Andy" 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 age 92.

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). 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.

World War II

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.[4]

In February 1943, flying with the Eighth Air Force, he was one of six correspondents who flew on the second American bombing raid over Germany.[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 kilometers (20 mi) to the west when he heard the bridge had been captured.[6][7][8] Forty years after the event, he wrote about his luck. "It was a reporter's dream. One of the great stories of the war had fallen into my lap."[9] When news of the bridge capture reached American newspapers, it was front page news.[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]

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 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.

For his service as a war correspondent in combat zones during the war Rooney was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal and Air Medal.[12]

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.[5]


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 with the program. 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 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."[14] From 1962 to 1968 he collaborated with another close friend, CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner — Rooney writing and producing, Reasoner narrating — on such notable CBS News specials 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]

When CBS declined to broadcast his World War II memoir, titled "An Essay on War", in 1970, Rooney quit CBS and read the opinion himself on PBS — his first appearance on television.[16] That show in 1971 won Rooney his third Writers Guild Award.[14] Rooney re-joined 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 prime-time 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, 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"[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 minorities

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."[21] 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".[22]

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."[21]

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."[23] 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.[24]

After Rooney's reinstatement, he made his remorse public:[25]

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

In the 1940s, Rooney was arrested after sitting in the back of a segregated bus in protest.[26] 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."[27]

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 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."[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."

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 the Pentagon producer for Fox 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.

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 surgery,[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


  1. 1 2 "Andy Rooney".
  2. "Andy Rooney To Kick Off The Albany Academies' Alumni/ae Speaker Series On September 19". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  3. "Colgate alumni play important roles in variety of fields". 2005-06-02. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  4. Rooney, Andy. How it Feels to Bomb Germany ...,
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Minzesheimer, Bob (January 19, 2010). "'A few minutes' with Andy Rooney becomes 91 years". USA Today.
  6. 1 2 Rooney, Andy (October 15, 2002). My War. New York: Public Affairs. pp. 251–253. ISBN 978-1586481599.
  7. Gay, Timothy (May 17, 2012). "Writing for Stripes defined Rooney's life". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  8. Rooney, Andy (March 13, 1945). "Bridge a Blow to Jerry". Stars & Stripes (London ed.).
  9. Rooney, Andy (March 7, 1985). "Recalling The Ludendorff Bridge". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  10. "Yanks Open Bridgehead Drive" (PDF). The Charlotte News. March 12, 1945. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  11. Long, James. "First Bolsters Bridgehead Across Rhine" (PDF). The Leader-Republican. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  12. Andy Rooney (September 1, 1987). "Medals of Honor". Norwalk, CN: The Hour.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 "Andy Rooney Biography". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Andy Rooney". CBS News. July 8, 1998. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008.
  15. "Andy Rooney". CBS News. September 21, 2005. Archived from the original on October 18, 2008. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  16. 1 2 Bauden, David: "'60 Minutes' commentator Andy Rooney dies" Today, November 5, 2011
  17. Rooney, Andy (November 6, 2005). "What Have They Done to Milk?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  18. Rooney, Andy (October 16, 2005). "Andy Bottles Eau De Rooney". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  19. Rooney, Andy (April 15, 2007). "Andy Checks Out The New Rides At The Auto Show". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  20. Rooney, Andy (January 14, 2007). "What's In A Team Name?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
  21. 1 2 Aspan, Maria (August 27, 2007). "Andy Rooney Regrets a Racist Comment in a Recent Column". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  22. Andy Rooney (April 16, 1992). "An Apology to Indians... Sort of". The Hour. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  23. "Andy Rooney Dead at 92". CBS News. November 5, 2011.
  24. Zoglin, Richard; Leslie Whitaker (12 March 1990). "The Return of a Curmudgeon". Time. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  25. Rooney, Andy (2003). Years of Minutes. p.  151–152.
  26. "Andy Rooney ... on 60 Minutes". Yahoo News. November 11, 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  27. Rooney, Andy (November 9, 2008). "Andy Rooney On The Election". 60 Minutes. CBS News. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  28. "April 17, 1994". 60 Minutes. 17 April 1994. CBS.
  29. "April 24, 1994". 60 Minutes. 24 April 1994. CBS.
  30. Rooney, Andy (2003). Years of Minutes. pp. 266–268.
  31. "Common Nonsense by Andy Rooney". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  32. Rooney, Andy. "Years Of Minutes". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  33. "Variety Profiles: Andy Rooney". Variety. Archived from the original on December 11, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  34. "News & Documentary Emmy Awards — 60 Minutes Receives Lifetime Achievement". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  35. "My Lucky Life". 60 Minutes. October 2, 2011. CBS.
  36. "Andy Rooney to step down from his '60 Minutes' role, CBS News, September 27, 2011.
  37. Pelley, Scott. "Andy Rooney ends his regular role on '60 Minutes'", The Washington Post, September 28, 2011.
  38. "Interview with Andy Rooney". Larry King Live. 2002-07-28.
  39. Rooney, Andy (1999). Sincerely, Andy Rooney. pp.  313.
  40. Rooney offers his opinion The Tufts Daily, November 19, 2004.
  41. "Humanist Network News #35: Andy Rooney on Atheism". Humanist Network News. September 24, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  42. "Rooney draws ire of 'Passion' fans". Associated Press. February 24, 2004. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
  43. Johnson, Peter; Mark Memmott (January 10, 2005). "CBS firings should go higher up, critics say". USA Today. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  44. Rooney, Andy (2006). Out of My Mind. pp.  xiv.
  45. "So You Want to Live in ... Rowayton, Connecticut". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  46. "Andy Rooney celebrates big day in big way". 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  47. "Andy Knows How To Save". CBS News. November 25, 2008.
  48. "Longtime CBS newsman Andy Rooney hospitalized". CNN. October 26, 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  49. DAVID BAUDER - AP Television, Writer. "Former '60 Minutes' Commentator Andy Rooney Dies." AP Top News Package 5 Nov. 2011: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 9 Dec. 2011.
  50. Sofia M. Fernandez (October 25, 2011). "Andy Rooney Remains Hospitalized After Surgery". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  51. "Emperor Has No Clothes Award". Retrieved 2011-11-14.
  52. Arizona State University. "Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication". Retrieved November 23, 2016.

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