, New York
. Colgate University
, class of '42. During
World War II
, he wrote for the Army's daily newspaper Stars and
, and was one of the first journalist
s to enter liberated Paris
In those WWII years, he would meet, among others, future colleagues like Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. A book he co-wrote with one of the Stars and Stripes
editors was bought by MGM
after the war; Rooney worked for awhile in Hollywood
before returning to Europe
briefly, as a writer for (the old) Cosmopolitan
He started writing, amidst his freelancing, for CBS (radio and
television) in the late 1940s; some of it was within the news division, but
over the years, he also wrote for entertainment figures like Arthur Godfrey
(then the biggest name on the airwaves, even bigger than Uncle Miltie) and Garry Moore. By 1962, he was writing essays and documentaries for CBS News full-time, usually for senior reporter Harry Reasoner, providing a different
flavor of essay to those of Charles Kuralt, later to become famous for his
weekly On the Road pieces.
As just-a-writer, Rooney wrote and/or produced various
documentaries; some, like An Essay on Chairs, were
long-form versions of his Reasoner segments, while others, like his portions of
the series Of Black America (for which he won the first of his Emmy
Awards), were hard-news works, in the CBS Reports Ed Murrow tradition.
Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington (he was still known as "Andrew Rooney" back then) gave him a chance to step in front of the camera, perhaps because Reasoner had, by then, jumped to ABC, IIRC; it won him a Peabody Award, and it led to other "Mr. Rooney" broadcasts, and, in 1978, to his weekly "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" gig on 60 Minutes (replacing "Point/Counterpoint"), in which he spends some of the last few minutes of the show turning small things into medium-sized essays. (But he was also called upon, more recently, to handle the Dr. Jack Kevorkian interview). Just an old, deliberately ordinary guy, sitting at his desk in the corner of his office, spinning a few lovably curmudgeonly everymanic words about nothing big; his just-folks, "Did you ever wonder...?" style has been lampooned by many.
Rooney has won three more Emmys for his 60 Minutes work, and has
leveraged his late bloomer celebrity into best-selling books and a newspaper
column. He has won six Writer's Guild awards for his scripts over the years. In
his spare time, he makes furniture. Of his four children, daughter Emily and
son Brian have had successful careers in the news biz.
Where would Jimmy Tingle be without Rooney's trailblazing? At Yuk Yuk's, two