Former CBS News commentator Andy Rooney dies

Sat Nov 5, 2011 9:16am EDT
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By Bill Trott

(Reuters) - Andy Rooney, the curmudgeonly commentator who pondered everything from shoelaces to the existence of God on CBS's "60 Minutes" news show for more than 30 years, died on Friday night at the age of 92, CBS said.

Rooney, a four-time Emmy winner, died one month after he had signed off from "60 Minutes" in October, concluding a 33-year run. A statement on CBS News' website said he died in a New York hospital of complications following minor surgery.

Rooney was a fixture on Sunday night television, closing out the "60 Minutes" broadcast with a short rant in his "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" segment. Sitting in his cluttered office at a desk he made himself, Rooney delivered more than 1,000 such essays, holding hold forth on a range of topics of varying degrees of relevance.

Adjectives like crusty, cranky and crabby frequently were attached to Rooney as he took critical looks at topics such as breakfast cereals or salad dressing, often with the overriding sentiment that things just weren't as good as they used to be.

But, peering out from under his bushy white eyebrows, Rooney also analyzed presidents, critiqued the Iraq war and considered North Korea's nuclear threat. His commentaries won three Emmy Awards.

"Underneath that gruff exterior, was a prickly interior ... and deeper down was a sweet and gentle man, a patriot with a love of all things American, like good bourbon and a delicious hatred for prejudice and hypocrisy," "60 Minutes" colleague Morley Safer said in a statement.

Rooney was a television writer and producer earlier in his career and preferred to think of himself as a writer who appeared on television. He joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for the popular "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" show and later worked on "The Garry Moore Show."

Beginning in 1962 he teamed with correspondent Harry Reasoner for CBS News, producing a series of specials with titles like "An Essay on Chairs" and "The Strange Case of the English Language." In 1968 Rooney won his first Emmy for his script for "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed."   Continued...