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Andy Rooney

Born Andrew Aitken Rooney
January 14, 1919 (1919-01-14) (age 91)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Occupation Writer, humorist, television personality
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Colgate University
Notable award(s) Emmy
2003 Lifetime Achievement
1980 "Tanks"
1980 "Grain"
1978 "Who Owns What in America"
1968 "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed"
Spouse(s) Marguerite Rooney
Children Brian, Emily, Martha, Ellen

Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney (born January 14, 1919) is an American radio and television writer. He is most notable for his weekly broadcast A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney, a part of the CBS News program 60 Minutes since 1978.

Contents

Biography

Youth

Andrew Rooney was born in Albany, New York, the son of Walter Scott Rooney (1888–1959) and Ellinor (née Reynolds) Rooney (1886–1980). He attended The Albany Academy, and later attended Colgate University in Hamilton in Upstate New York, where he was initiated into the Sigma Chi fraternity, until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in August 1941. While in the Army, he began his career in newspapers in 1942 when he began writing for Stars and Stripes in London [1 ] during World War II. He later published a memoir, My War (1997) about his war reporting. In addition to recounting firsthand several notable historical events and people (like the entry into Paris, the concentration camps, etc.), Rooney describes how it shaped his experience both as a writer and reporter.

In February 1943, flying with the Eighth Air Force, he was one of six correspondents who flew on the first American bombing raid over Germany. Later, he was one of the first American journalists to visit the German concentration camps as World War II wound down, and one of the first to write about them.

CBS career

Rooney joined CBS in 1949, as a writer for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, when Godfrey was at his peak on CBS radio and TV. The program was a hit, reaching number one in 1952, during Rooney's tenure with the program. He also wrote for Godfrey's daytime radio and TV show Arthur Godfrey Time. He later moved on to The Garry Moore Show, which also became a hit program. During the same period, he also wrote for CBS News public affairs programs such as The 20th Century.

According to CBS News's biography of him, "Rooney wrote his first television essay, a longer-length precursor of the type he does on 60 Minutes, in 1964, 'An Essay on Doors.' From 1962 to 1968, he collaborated with the late CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner — Rooney writing and producing, Reasoner narrating — on such notable CBS News specials as An Essay on Bridges (1965), An Essay on Hotels (1966), An Essay on Women (1967), and The Strange Case of the English Language (1968). An Essay on War (1971) won Rooney his third Writers Guild Award. In 1968, he wrote two CBS News specials in the series Of Black America, and his script for Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed, won him his first Emmy." [2] Rooney also wrote the script for the 1975 documentary FDR: The Man Who Changed America.

In the 1970s, Rooney wrote and appeared in several prime-time specials for CBS, including In Praise of New York City (1974), the Peabody Award-winning Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington (1975), Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner (1976), and Mr. Rooney Goes to Work (1977). (Transcripts of these specials, as well as some of the earlier collaborations with Reasoner, are contained in the book A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney). Another special, Andy Rooney Takes Off, followed in 1984.

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney

Rooney's "end-of-show" segment on 60 Minutes, A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, originally Three Minutes or So With Andy Rooney, began in 1978 as a summer replacement for the debate segment Point/Counterpoint featuring Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick. The segment proved popular enough with viewers that beginning in the fall of 1978, it was seen in alternate weeks with the debate segment. At the end of the 1978-79 season, Point/Counterpoint was dropped altogether.

In the segment, Rooney typically offers satire on a trivial everyday issue, such as the cost of groceries, annoying relatives, or faulty Christmas presents. Rooney's appearances on A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney often include whimsical lists (e.g., types of milk,[3] bottled water brands,[4] car brands,[5] sports mascots,[6] etc.). In recent years, his segments have become more political as well. Despite being best known for his television presence on 60 Minutes, Rooney has always considered himself a writer who incidentally appears on television behind his famous walnut table, which he made himself.

Rooney's shorter television essays have been archived in numerous books, such as Common Nonsense, which came out in 2002, and Years of Minutes, released in 2003. He also pens a regular syndicated column for Tribune Media Services that runs in many newspapers in the United States, and which has also been collected in book form. He has won three Emmy Awards for his essays,[7] which now number close to 1,000. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2003. Rooney's renown has made him a frequent target of parodies and impersonations by a diverse group of comedic figures, including Frank Caliendo, Rich Little and Beavis.

Views

He has claimed on Larry King Live to have a liberal bias, stating, "There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions."[8] Though in a controversial 1999 book Rooney self-identified as agnostic,[9] Rooney has, as of 2008, become an atheist.[10] Over the years many of his editorials have poked fun at the concept of God and organized religion. Increased speculation on this was brought to a head by a series of comments he made regarding Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ (2004).[11]

Though Rooney has been called Irish-American, he once said "I'm proud of my Irish heritage, but I'm not Irish. I'm not even Irish-American. I am American, period."

In 2005, when four people were fired at CBS News perhaps because of the Killian documents controversy, Rooney said, "The people on the front lines got fired while the people most instrumental in getting the broadcast on escaped." Others at CBS had "kept mum" about the controversy.[12]

Andy Rooney was briefly interviewed on HBO's Da Ali G Show, where he became one of the only guests to be so annoyed by Ali G that he furiously ended the interview several minutes into it. Before ending the interview, he repeatedly corrected Ali G when he used "does" as the conjugation of the verb "to do" in the second-person singular when addressing Rooney. When Ali G said, "I think that's an English/American thing going on," Rooney replied, "No, no. That's English. The English language is very clear. I have fifty books on the English language if you'd like to borrow one." In Rooney's frustration near the beginning of the interview, he intentionally misspelled his own last name as Runey when Ali G asked him how it was spelled.

Racial remarks

Rooney has occasionally been accused by critics of insensitive use of ethnic and racial labels. In a 2002 commentary, Rooney addressed the use of the term Negro this way:

Our thoughts about words change over the years. In 1968, I wrote a television show called Black History, Lost, Stolen or Strayed for Bill Cosby. I remember being uneasy with the word black because the acceptable word back then was Negro. Today, I wouldn't use Negro. It's a good, strong word, but now it sounds wrong to me.

Different ethnic groups of Americans have always had terrible nicknames for each other. I remember hearing them as a kid. You don't hear them much anymore because they always make the person using them sound like such ignorant jerks.

—Andy Rooney, [13]

He also wrote a column in 1992 that it was "silly" for Native-Americans to complain about team names like the Redskins saying, "The real problem is, we took the country away from the Indians, they want it back and we're not going to give it to them. We feel guilty and we'll do what we can for them within reason, but they can't have their country back. Next question."[14]

In a recent column for Tribune media services, he wrote, "I know all about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but today's baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me." Rooney later commented, "Yeah, I probably shouldn't have said it, [but] it's a name that seems common in baseball now. I certainly didn't think of it in any derogatory sense."[14]

Rooney has always denied that he is a racist. In the 1940s, he was arrested after sitting in the back of a segregated bus in protest.[15] Also, in 2008, Rooney applauded the fact that "the citizens of this country, 80 percent of whom are white, freely chose to elect a black man as their leader simply because they thought he was the best choice." He said that makes him proud, and that it proves that the country has "come a long way - a good way."[16]

Suspension by CBS

In 1990, Rooney was suspended without pay for three months. This punishment was for saying that "too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead... to premature death." Also, he wrote an explanatory letter to a gay organization after being ordered not to do so, a letter many found offensive and distasteful. After only four weeks without Rooney, 60 Minutes lost 20 percent of its audience. CBS management then decided that it was in the best interest of the network to have Rooney return immediately.[17]

After Rooney's reinstatement, he made his remorse public:

There was never a writer who didn't hope that in some small way he was doing good with the words he put down on paper and, while I know it's presumptuous, I've always had in my mind that I was doing some little bit of good.

Now, I was to be known for having done, not good, but bad. I'd be known for the rest of my life as a racist bigot and as someone who had made life a little more difficult for homosexuals. I felt terrible about that and I've learned a lot.

[...] What do I do to justify the action David Burke, the president of CBS News, has taken in putting me back on air? [...] It's overwhelming.... Let's face it, even on the nights when I'm good, I'm not that good.

—Andy Rooney, [18]

Remarks on Kurt Cobain's suicide

In a 1994 segment, Rooney attracted controversy with his remarks on Kurt Cobain's suicide. He expressed his dismay that the death of Richard Nixon was overshadowed by Cobain's suicide, stating that he had never heard of Cobain or his band, Nirvana. He went on to say that Cobain's suicide made him angry. "A lot of people would like to have the years left that he threw away," Rooney said. "What's all this nonsense about how terrible life is?" he asked, and he added, speaking rhetorically to a young woman who had wept at the suicide, "I'd love to relieve the pain you're going through by switching my age for yours." "What would all these young people be doing if they had real problems like a Depression, World War II or Vietnam?" "If he applied the same brain to his music that he applied to his drug-infested life, it's reasonable to think that his music may not have made much sense either." Later, Rooney admitted that he might have been "unfair" and apologized on air.[19]

Family life

His wife of 62 years, Marguerite "Margie" Rooney (née Howard), died in 2004 of heart failure. Rooney later wrote, "her name does not appear as often as it originally did [in my essays] because it hurts too much to write it."[20] He has four children, including a daughter, Emily Rooney, who is a TV talk show host and former ABC News producer; she currently hosts a nightly Boston-area public affairs program, Greater Boston, on WGBH. His son, Brian Rooney, has been a correspondent for ABC since the 1980s. Another daughter, Ellen, is a photographer based in London. Emily's identical twin, Martha, is Chief of the Public Services Division at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.

Rooney currently lives in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, Connecticut and in Rensselaerville, New York, and is a longtime season ticket holder for the New York Giants.

Awards

2001 - Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.[21]

Books

Books written by Rooney:

  • A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney, 1981 (ISBN 0-689-11194-0)
  • The Complete Andy Rooney, 1983 (ISBN 0-446-11219-4)
  • And More by Andy Rooney, 1985 (ISBN 0-517-40622-5)
  • Pieces of My Mind, 1986 (ISBN 0-689-11492-3)
  • The Most of Andy Rooney, 1986 (ISBN 0-689-11864-3)
  • Word for Word, 1988 (ISBN 0-399-13200-7)
  • Not That You Asked..., 1989 (ISBN 0-394-57837-6)
  • Most of Andy Rooney, 1990 (ISBN 0-88365-765-1)
  • Sweet and Sour, 1992 (ISBN 0-399-13774-2)
  • My War, 1997 (ISBN 0-517-17986-5)
  • Sincerely, Andy Rooney, 1999 (ISBN 1-891620-34-7)
  • Common Nonsense, 2002, (ISBN 1-58648-144-4)
  • Years of Minutes, 2003 (ISBN 1-58648-211-4)
  • Out of My Mind, 2006 (ISBN 1-58648-416-8)
  • 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit 2009

References

  1. ^ Rooney, Andy (November 16, 2008 broadcast). "Andy's Homage To Newsprint". 60 Minutes (CBS News). http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/16/60minutes/rooney/main4607787.shtml. Retrieved November 16, 2008.  
  2. ^ "Andy Rooney". CBS News. September 21, 2005. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1998/07/08/60minutes/main13495.shtml. Retrieved October 28, 2008.  
  3. ^ Rooney, Andy (November 6, 2005). "What Have They Done to Milk?". 60 Minutes. CBS News'. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/11/03/60minutes/rooney/main1007432.shtml. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  
  4. ^ Rooney, Andy (October 16, 2005). "Andy Bottles Eau De Rooney". 60 Minutes. CBS News'. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/13/60minutes/rooney/main939291.shtml. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  
  5. ^ Rooney, Andy (April 15, 2007). "Andy Checks Out The New Rides At The Auto Show". 60 Minutes. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/12/60minutes/rooney/main2677598.shtml. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  
  6. ^ Rooney, Andy (January 14, 2007). "What's In A Team Name?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/12/60minutes/rooney/main2355874.shtml. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  
  7. ^ "Variety Profiles: Andy Rooney". Variety. http://www.variety.com/profiles/people/main/884311/Andy+Rooney.html?dataSet=1. Retrieved November 16, 2008.  
  8. ^ "Interview With Andy Rooney". Larry King Live. 2002-07-28.
  9. ^ Rooney, Andy (1999). Sincerely, Andy Rooney. pp.  313.  
  10. ^ "Humanist Network News #35: Andy Rooney on Atheism". Humanist Network News. September 24, 2008. http://www.humaniststudies.org/enews/?id=367&article=0. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  
  11. ^ Associated Press (February 24, 2004). "Rooney draws ire of 'Passion' fans". MSNBC.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4355043/. Retrieved November 7, 2008.  
  12. ^ Johnson, Peter; Mark Memmott (January 10, 2005). "CBS firings should go higher up, critics say". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2005-01-10-cbs-reaction_x.htm. Retrieved November 12, 2008.  
  13. ^ Rooney, Andy (January 20, 2002). "What's In A Word?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/18/60minutes/rooney/main324839.shtml. Retrieved October 28, 2008.  
  14. ^ a b Aspan, Maria (August 27, 2007). "Andy Rooney Regrets a Racist Comment in a Recent Column". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/27/business/media/27rooney.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin. Retrieved October 28, 2008.  
  15. ^ "Andy Rooney ... on 60 Minutes". Yahoo News. November 11, 2008. http://60minutes.yahoo.com/segment/11/andy_rooney. Retrieved November 11, 2008.  
  16. ^ Rooney, Andy (November 9, 2008). "Andy Rooney On The Election". 60 Minutes. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/07/60minutes/rooney/main4581854.shtml. Retrieved November 11, 2008.  
  17. ^ Zoglin, Richard; Leslie Whitaker (March 12, 1990). "The Return of a Curmudgeon". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,969591,00.html. Retrieved October 29, 2008.  
  18. ^ Rooney, Andy (2003). Years of Minutes. p.  151-152.  
  19. ^ Rooney 2003, pp. 266-268
  20. ^ Rooney, Andy (2006). Out of My Mind. pp.  xiv.  
  21. ^ http://www.ffrf.org/awards/emperor/

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