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Andy Rooney, '60 Minutes' commentator, dies

November 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former "60 Minutes" humorist Andy Rooney has died just a month after his final commentary aired. He was 92.

CBS News said Rooney died Friday night in New York.

He had gone to the hospital for an undisclosed surgery, but complications developed and he never recovered.

"Andy always said he wanted to work until the day he died, and he managed to do it, save the last few weeks in the hospital," said his "60 Minutes" colleague, correspondent Steve Kroft.

Rooney spent more than 30 years wryly talking about the oddities of life for "60 minutes." He railed about how unpleasant air travel has become and questioned why banks have important-sounding names.

Sometimes, he just talked about the old clothes in his closet.

Rooney won one of his four Emmy Awards for a piece on whether there was a real Mrs. Smith who made Mrs. Smith's Pies. As it turned out, there was no Mrs. Smith.

"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. "And they say, `Hey, yeah!' And they like that."

"60 Minutes" aired its first Rooney commentary on July 2, 1978. He complained about people who keep track of how many people die in car accidents on holiday weekends. In fact, he said, the Fourth of July is "one of the safest weekends of the year to be going someplace."

CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager said "it's hard to imagine not having Andy around. He loved his life and he lived it on his own terms. We will miss him very much."

For his final essay, Rooney said that he'd live a life luckier than most.

"I wish I could do this forever. I can't, though," he said.

Rooney's blunt opinions sometimes landed him in hot water. CBS suspended him for three months in 1990 for making racist remarks in an interview, which he denied. Rooney, who was arrested in Florida while in the Army in the 1940s for refusing to leave a seat among blacks on a bus, was hurt deeply by the charge of racism.

Gay rights groups were mad, during the AIDS epidemic, when Rooney mentioned homosexual unions in saying "many of the ills which kill us are self-induced." Indians protested when Rooney suggested Native Americans who made money from casinos weren't doing enough to help their own people.

Rooney and his wife, Marguerite, were married for 62 years before she died in 2004. They had four children.

Daughter Emily Rooney is a former executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight." Brian was a longtime ABC News correspondent, Ellen a photographer and Martha Fishel is chief of the public service division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Services will be private, and it's anticipated CBS News will hold a public memorial later, Brian Rooney said Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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