November 5, 2011
Jim Cooper/Courtesy The Associated Press

Andy Rooney. (Jim Cooper/Courtesy The Associated Press)

Remembering Andy Rooney

Andy Rooney, the Emmy Award-winning "60 Minutes" pundit whose "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" had been a longtime staple of the popular newsmagazine, died Nov. 4, 2011. He was 92.

Rooney got his first reporting job writing for Stars and Stripes during World War II. He was one of the "Writing 69th," a group of correspondents that included his friend Walter Cronkite, that flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force on its bombing raid of Germany. He was also one of the first U.S. journalists to visit and report on the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Rooney joined CBS in 1949 as a radio and television writer for Arthur Godfrey and Victor Borge. He arrived at CBS News in 1962. His "60 Minutes" commentaries — where he talked about everything from umbrellas to newspapers and crowded elevators — was a summer replacement for "Point/Counterpoint," a political segment at the end of the show that featured Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick.

Rooney's regular essays began July 2, 1978. The first one was about people who compiled lists of people who died in traffic accidents over the holidays. His last one — the 1,097th — was delivered Oct. 2, 2011.

"I wish I could do this forever," he said. "I can't, though."

Rooney also wrote a syndicated column and was the author of more than a dozen best-selling books.

In 1990, CBS News suspended Rooney for three months without pay for remarks he made about homosexuals during a CBS special program and for a quote about blacks that was attributed to him in The Advocate newspaper. Rooney vehemently denied the quote. Viewer protests and a public apology quickly restored Rooney on the air. When an Associated Press TV critic suggested in 1996 that he retire, Rooney broadcast the critic's telephone number; 7,000 people called in Rooney's defense.

Rooney said the key to his success was speaking his mind and tackling subjects that people took for granted.

"We're so busy analyzing the obscure that we haven't realized that we really haven't mastered the commonplace," he said.

An exhibit on "60 Minutes" is on display in the News Corporation News History Gallery.

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