I just learned that the curmudgeonly Andy Rooney, 92, longtime closing commentator on television’s “60 Minutes,” died last night. Having expressed only a month ago my relief at seeing him finally retire, I am feeling quite small today.
AP’s David Bauder wrote a wonderful tribute to Rooney, with details of a career reaching all the way back to a high school job as copy boy at the Albany (NY) Knickerbocker News. His break into broadcasting came after World War II when, as a freelance writer with several books to his credit, he happened into then-radio star Arthur Godfrey in an elevator and told him bluntly that his show could use better writing. Godfrey hired him, and when he moved to television in 1953, Rooney went with him. He joined “60 Minutes” in 1978.
The New York Times also published a great article, and one can only imagine what the outspoken Mr. Rooney might have said about all the kerfuffle.
Rooney died of complications from surgery, the anticipation of which might have prompted his retirement. And although the death of a 92-year-old generally comes as no great surprise, it was still a shock to learn of it so soon after his last TV appearance.
Perhaps his retirement years were the one story he didn’t want to write.
Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP