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Andy Rooney, whose weekly commentary on CBS’s “60 Minutes” made him a household name, died Friday in New York City at the age of 92. Rooney stopped appearing on the show just last month, and was hospitalized soon after. A CBS statement said he died of complications after a minor operation, according to The New York Times.
“Words cannot adequately express Andy’s contribution to the world of Journalism and the impact he made — as a colleague and friend — upon everybody at CBS,” said company president and CEO Leslie Moonves, according to the Associated Press.
Rooney grew up in Albany, New York, and attended Colgate University before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941. During his service, the son of a paper worker got a job working for the military publication Stars and Stripes, where he was awarded a Bronze Star for reporting on the invasion in France.
But most Americans learned of Andy Rooney much later, after he had come home and entered the Television business as a writer for Walter Cronkite and others. A special that Rooney produced and appeared in, “Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington,” won a Peabody in 1975.
His first commentary for “60 Minutes,” which became “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” aired on July 2, 1978; a whopping 1097 segments later, Rooney was perhaps the most famous and well-loved curmudgeon in the country.
Speaking directly to the viewer from behind a desk cluttered with newspapers and walled-in by books, Rooney delivered his weekly statements with a style that valued folksy rather than fancy language, and strong opinions over mere lists of facts. With Rooney, you always knew you were getting to a statement, even if it was “I don’t like shoes.”
Rooney was drew criticism for voicing intolerant opinions on race and homosexuality. He was suspended from work for racist comments directed towards African-Americans--relayed by a reporter who interviewed him--in 1990. Rooney denied making the comments in question and the interview was not taped.
But in a media landscape that often pushed the aging out of the limelight, Rooney offered a consistent and committed perspective from his generation, a healthy skepticism of change without improvement, and an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. He also resonated with millions of viewers.
“I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn’t realize they thought,” Rooney once said, according to the Associated Press. “And they say, ‘Hey, yeah!’ And they like that.”