The gloriously grumpy commentator first sat down behind that famed desk on July 2, 1978. It was a seat that would launch him to fame as a cultural icon.
From his first commentary to his very last, Andy Rooney played the part of the “Everyman,” speaking his mind frankly on subjects as haughty as the existence of God and as mundane as wristwatches.
Whether his commentary was agreeable or contentious, it didn’t faze Rooney. He vowed to keep delivering his candid thoughts on 60 Minutes, a role he kept up for 33 years. And what a journey it was for the 92-year-old Rooney, who died Friday evening after complications from a surgery. He announced his retirement during his 1,097th broadcast on the CBS newsmagazine show on October 2, 2011.
“I probably haven’t said anything here that you didn’t already know or have already thought,” he noted on his final broadcast. But indeed that’s what Rooney was so good at: evaluating the annoyances of society at such a deep level that it brought clarity and understanding to everyday thoughts.
His first segment in July of 1978 reflected on the morbidity of death statistics around the Fourth of July weekend. He picked apart the news reports that noted it was dangerous to drive during the holiday weekend, as many more people die in car accidents. Rooney proved – through his now-classic combination of smart analysis and witty snark – that the Fourth of July weekend was actually quite safe to be in a car, considering how many more people are out that weekend.
It was the first part in his epic run originally titled “Three Minutes or so with Andy Rooney,” as he filled in that summer for two regular contributors on 60 Minutes. But they would never return – by the fall, Rooney’s segment was the closing act to the CBS show.
And now we’re taking our few minutes to say a fond farewell to Andy. We have no doubt the beloved curmudgeon is continuing his nitpicking beyond the Pearly Gates.