Familiar TV face Andy Rooney to step down
92-year-old commentator described himself as a 'writer who read what he had written'
He bristled at the term "television personality" and preferred to be known as "a writer who reads what he's written." The curmudgeonly TV commentator Andy Rooney offered his final remarks on the news show "60 Minutes." The 92-year-old Rooney has capped off his six-decade long career.
Andy Rooney defined the term "curmudgeon" -- no topic was spared hic comic wrath. The 92-year-old commentator made his final appearance on "60 Minutes" on Sunday.
"I wish I could do this forever. But I can't," he said. "But I'm not retiring. Writers don't retire, and I'll always be a writer."
Rooney had been with the CBS network as a writer for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" since 1949, and been part of the "60 Minutes" crew since 1978.
Rooney's final essay was his 1,097th for the program.
"A writer's job is to tell the truth," he said. "I know I've been terribly wrong sometimes, but I think I've been right more than I've been wrong."
Morley Safer, himself an 89-year-old journalist and a "60 Minutes" fixture since 1970 interviewed Rooney about his personal and professional life.
Rooney attended Colgate University until he was drafted into the Army in 1941. He was one of six correspondents who flew with the 8th Air Force on the first American bombing raid over Germany in February of 1943. Last year, Rooney received the Overseas Press Club of America President's Award for these reports.
Rooney said he doesn't sign autographs and rarely responds to fan mail. Rooney admitted that he didn't "want to answer an idiot who would have the bad sense to write me a letter." Rooney has also engendered controversy, such as his weeks-long suspension in 1990 from "60 Minutes" for remarks that offended some gay viewers.
In his time on "60 minutes," Rooney always wrapped up the mostly serious news program with comedic commentary on things that had rubbed him the wrong way the previous week. Everything was game, with everything from desk clutter to chocolate chip cookies to door knobs being the target of Rooney's humorous barbs.
Rooney also contributed serious pieces in the wake of events like the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the "shock and awe" campaign to start the 2003 Iraq war -- a phrase he scathingly said "makes us look like foolish braggarts."
Safer described Rooney as "America's favorite grouch-in-chief," saying Rooney used his "loud whiny voice ... speaking up for citizens fed up with everything."
"There have been many curmudgeons on television over its long history," Safer said. "None has been so long serving in that role as Mr. Rooney."
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