Birthday: January 14, 1919
Died At Age: 92
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Andrew Aitken Rooney
Born in: Albany, New York
Quotes By Andy Rooney
Spouse/Ex-: Marguerite Rooney (m. 1942–2004)
father: Walter Scott Rooney
mother: Ellinor (Reynolds) Rooney
siblings: Nancy Reynolds Rooney
children: Brian Rooney, Ellen Rooney, Emily Rooney, Martha Rooney
Died on: November 4, 2011
place of death: New York City, New York
U.S. State: New Yorkers
awards: 2003 Lifetime Achievement
2001 — Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation
Andrew Aitken “Andy” Rooney was an award winning journalist and television writer who was one of the first American journalists to visit and report on the Nazi concentration camps. His journalistic career began while he was serving in the army during the World War II when he started writing for the ‘Stars and Stripes’. As a correspondent for the newspaper he even flew in bombing missions over Germany. He later stated that being a pacifist he was opposed to the war, and whatever he witnessed at the concentration camps affected him profoundly both as a human being and as a writer. His first book, ‘Air Gunner’ was released even as the war was going on. He worked as a freelance writer after the war before landing a job as a writer for the CBS show ‘Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts’. A lifelong friendship between Rooney and Godfrey ensued which enabled him to establish himself as a television writer. Eventually he moved on to write public affairs programs for the CBS News department before he was asked to produce essays for Harry Reasoner. Rooney wrote humorous essays on mundane, daily life objects like chairs, doors, and bridges which made him hugely popular among the viewers, and led to his gig on ‘60 Minutes’.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as the son of Walter Scott Rooney and Ellinor Reynolds Rooney. He went to the Albany Academy, an independent college-preparatory day school before enrolling at the Colgate University in New York.
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He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941 to serve during the World War II. His journalistic career began when he joined the military newspaper ‘Stars and Stripes’ in 1942.
He was flying with the Eighth Air Force in 1943 when he was selected as one of the correspondents to cover the second American bombing raid over Germany. He later became one of the first American journalists to visit the Nazi concentration camps and write about them.
His experience in the war affected him deeply; he was a pacifist at heart and his exposure to wide spread destruction and death changed his views about life and wars. The experience also molded him as a writer and a journalist.
His first book, ‘Air Gunner’ which he had co-authored with Oram C Hutton was published in January 1944. The book which told of his dramatic, often horrific experiences in the war, became a bestseller.
After the war, he started working as a freelancer. He bagged the position of a writer for the CBS show, ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts’ in 1949. At that time Godfrey was a highly successful personality on radio and television. His acquaintance and later friendship helped Rooney cement his career.
He was a big hit as a writer for the ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts’ which exposed his talents to a wider audience. The program became even more popular after Rooney joined and was adjudged number 1 in 1952.
The success of the program led to an offer for writing for Godfrey’s daytime radio and television show ‘Arthur Godfrey Time’.
In 1959, he began writing for ‘The Garry Moore Show’ which was a variety series on the CBS television network which consisted of comedy skits, monologues and singing. The show became a hit over his tenure which lasted till 1965.
During the 1960s, he focused more on serious writing and started contributing to the CBS News public affairs program ‘The 20th Century’. He wrote two CBS News specials that were aired as a part of the series ‘Of Black America’; one of the pieces won him his first Emmy Award.
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He collaborated with the CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner for whom he wrote a series of essays on mundane objects from 1962 to 1968. These essays formed the base for the CBS News specials such as ‘An Essay on Bridges’ (1965), ‘An Essay on Hotels’ (1966), and ‘The Strange Case of the English language’ (1968).
He had written a World War II memoir titled ‘An Essay on War’ which he wanted to broadcast on CBS. However, when the channel declined to this offer he quit CBS in 1970 and presented it on PBS. This incident marked his first television appearance.
In 1973, he rejoined CBS. He wrote and appeared in several special programs including ‘In Praise of New York City’ (1974), ‘Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington’ (1975), ‘Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner’ (1977), and ‘Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner’ (1978).
He began delivering a light-hearted commentary at the end of the CBS newsmagazine ’60 Minutes’ in a segment called ‘A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney’ in 1978. The segment was initially started as a replacement for the debate segment ‘Point/Counterpoint’ though its popularity led to it becoming a permanent attraction. He remained with the program for over three decades and delivered his last commentary in 2011.
He is best known for the segment ‘A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney’, a weekly broadcast that was part of the program ’60 Minutes’. He appeared on the show from 1978 to 2011 concluding it with a humorous commentary on topics ranging from international politics to personal philosophies. He gave 1,097 commentaries on the program over his 34 year long tenure with them.
Awards & Achievements
He was presented with the Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001.
The recipient of four Emmy Awards, he won his first award for his script for CBS Special ‘Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed’ which he wrote in 1968. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Marguerite "Margie" Howard in 1942. The couple had a loving marriage that produced four children and lasted for 62 years till Margie’s death in 2004. Two of his children are also journalists.
He led an active lifestyle till the very end of his life, still making his famous appearances on ’60 Minutes’. He died of some postoperative complications in November 2011 at the age of 92.