Andy Rooney, CBS News’ longtime resident curmudgeon whose whimsical and acerbic essays on “60 Minutes” turned the rumpled writer into an unlikely — and reluctant — TV celebrity, died Friday night, only weeks after retiring from the show. He was 92.
CBS announced the death of Rooney, who launched his long career during World War II as a correspondent for the Stars and Stripes military newspaper and continued to be a fixture on “60 Minutes” until he retired last month after 33 years.
On Oct. 25, the network said Rooney was hospitalized after developing serious complications after minor surgery.
For millions of Americans, Rooney was a welcome visitor into their homes on Sunday evenings, an old familiar face appearing for a few minutes at the tail end of one of the most highly rated programs in television history.
And if some viewers of the award-winning pioneer TV newsmagazine saw him as a friend, neighbor or relative, they knew what to expect from the man who offered his opinions on a broad array of topics.
Wry. Curmudgeonly. Whimsical. An articulate Everyman. Unruffled yet quizzical. A crank. A complainer. The man of a thousand questions.
Those are just some of the words journalists have used to describe the man TV Guide called “America’s favorite grump.”
Seated behind his desk in his small, cluttered office at CBS in New York, Rooney spoke into the camera as though the viewer at home had just dropped in for a brief visit to see what was on his mind that week.
There was always something.
Designer jeans: “The facts of the advertising greatly exceed the fact of the average American posterior.”
Bank names: “Trust is a word banks like in their names. There are certain names they’d never use, ‘Bankorama,’ for instance.”
Baseball: “My own time is passing fast enough without some national game to help it along.”
But Rooney didn’t just spend his few minutes on seemingly trivial matters. In 2003, for example, he turned his attention to the French for failing to support the war in Iraq.
“You can’t beat the French when it comes to food, fashion, wine or perfume, but they lost their license to have an opinion on world affairs years ago,” he said. “The French lost World War II to the Germans in about 20 minutes.”
With Rooney, as his “60 Minutes” colleague Mike Wallace once said, “What you see is what you get.”