Andy Rooney’s last words were: “If you do see me in a restaurant, please just let me eat my dinner.”
And then he was gone — off of “60 Minutes” after 33 years of unforgettable commentaries.
His final words — delivered Sunday night at the conclusion of the venerable CBS News show — were his way of saying he didn’t really mind becoming a nationally known TV personality on one of network television’s most iconic shows. But at the same time, he insisted he was never comfortable with the fame he earned from TV, with people shouting out his name at football games and the like.
See Rooney’s Final Words:
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And, as he noted earlier in the show in an interview with colleague Morley Safer, he never gave, nor will he ever give, an autograph, so if you see him walking down the street, don’t bother asking.
“Not many people in the world are as lucky as I am,” said Rooney, 92, to open his final commentary on Sunday. He called it lucky to be able to earn a nice living doing what he loved to do, which is writing. “I don’t think of myself as a television personality,” he said. “I’m a writer who reads what he has written.”
“This is a moment I’ve dreaded,” he said of saying good-bye. Then he thanked those who were watching last night, or had watched him over the years. “I don’t usually say this, but thank you,” he said, just before he requested that no one bug him in restaurants.
It was really a nice good-bye — in a word, Rooney-like. To apply the old cliche, he was gruff-but-lovable, and we wish him well.
He was also a lot of other things, according to Safer, who might not have realized it, but in the course of interviewing Andy and narrating the segment on him that was produced for Sunday night’s “60 Minutes,” Safer had some choice words for his old pal. We jotted down a handful of them: At different times, Safer called Rooney “the Grandpa Moses of broadcasting,” “Grandpa Methuselah,” “a junkyard poodle,” and an “icon” (naturally), and said Rooney was a man with “the demeanor of an unmade bed.”
For his part, Rooney said a few candid things himself in the interview. He referred to his first boss in television, Arthur Godfrey — who Rooney wrote for in 1949 and 1950 — as “nasty.” He called his friend, the late newsman Harry Reasoner — who Rooney spent eight years writing for — “lazy,” and Safer and Rooney agreed that Harry “drank a lot.”
And snippets of some of Andy’s commentaries were shown — covering topics ranging from the mundane (telephone books, chocolate chip cookies) to the serious (the first Space Shuttle disaster, the War in Iraq).
“A writer’s job is to tell the truth,” said Andy in his final commentary. Well, here’s some truth, written here, about Andy Rooney: We’ll miss him.