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Legendary '60 Minutes' Commentator Andy Rooney Dies

By Tom Liddy | November 5, 2011 9:03am
Andy Rooney in 2004.
Andy Rooney in 2004.
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Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Andy Rooney, a cantankerous, controversial and comedic fixture of journalism on "60 Minutes" for generations, died Friday night at 92.

Rooney, who had delivered nearly 1,100 essays for the popular television program and spent more than 60 years at CBS, died of complications from minor surgery, the network said.

"It's a sad day at '60 Minutes' and for everybody here at CBS News," said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of "60 Minutes." 

"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."

Rooney, imitated by comedian Joe Piscopo on "Saturday Night Live," made his last regular appearance on the show on Oct. 2, after appearing every week since 1978, the New York Times said.

The four-time Emmy Award winner got his start at CBS in 1949 when he bumped into radio star Arthur Godfrey and told him that the show could be written better, the Associated Press said.

Over the years, he complained about everything from those who track of the number of people who die in car accidents over holiday weekend, as in his debut commentary on July 2, 1978, to the unpleasantness of airline travel, the AP said.

Occasionally, his words — delivered from behind a desk that he fashioned himself, according to CBS — got him into trouble.

In 1990, Rooney was suspended from the network for three months because of racial remarks he made in an interview, a charge that he denied and that deeply affected him, the AP said.

And he also drew ire for comments about homosexuality, Native Americans and the suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the reports said.

"Today we mourn the passing of a great journalist and American icon," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement.

"Andy Rooney was known for his strong opinions, wit, and love of life. Never one to hold back his feelings, his weekly segment on '60 Minutes' was watched across the world by viewers who admired his honesty and straightforwardness."

Rooney, a great-grandfather, was born in Albany in 1919 and first worked as a copy boy for the Albany Knickerbocker News, according to the AP.

During World War II, Rooney, who lived in Manhattan, but maintained homes in upstate New York and Connecticut, served in artillery unit and then was a correspondent at the military's Stars and Stripes, CBS said.

He wrote several books about his experiences during the war, during which he earned a bronze star.