Andy Rooney, CBS News' longtime resident curmudgeon whose whimsical and acerbic essays on "60 Minutes" turned the rumpled writer into an unlikely — and reluctant — TV celebrity, died Friday night, only weeks after retiring from the show. He was 92.
CBS announced the death of Rooney, who launched his long career during World War II as a correspondent for the Stars and Stripes military newspaper and continued to be a fixture on "60 Minutes" for 33 years.
He died at a New York City hospital of complications following minor surgery, according to CBS.
For millions of Americans, Rooney was a welcome visitor into their homes on Sunday evenings, an old familiar face appearing for a few minutes at the tail end of one of the most highly rated programs in television history.
Viewers of the award-winning TV newsmagazine who saw him as a friend, neighbor or relative knew what to expect from the man who offered his opinions on a broad array of topics.
Wry. Curmudgeonly. Whimsical. An articulate Everyman. Unruffled yet quizzical. A crank. A complainer. The man of a thousand questions.
Those are just some of the words journalists have used to describe the man TV Guide called "America's favorite grump."
Seated behind his desk in his small, cluttered office at CBS in New York, Rooney spoke into the camera as though the viewer at home had just dropped in for a brief visit to see what was on his mind that week.
With Rooney, as his "60 Minutes" colleague Mike Wallace once said, "What you see is what you get."
"I have never, never come across a man I admire more, respect more," Wallace said during a discussion of journalism in World War II at the Smithsonian Institution in 2004.
"He's loyal, he's honorable. He's got the guts to say what is on his mind. And, thank God, we've had the opportunity to let millions of Americans see him every Sunday night for the last couple of decades," said Wallace.
For his part, Rooney preferred being known simply as a "writer." And he was not enamored with the celebrity that came with appearing on television each week.
"A writer should be sitting over in the corner watching the dance and not be out there dancing," he told the Saturday Evening Post in 1984. "I'm not too keen about my recent well-known-ness; I don't handle it very well."
Rooney's wife of 62 years, Marguerite, whom he called Marge, was a longtime Connecticut high school math teacher. She died in 2004.
He is survived by their four children, Ellen; Brian, a former ABC News correspondent; Emily, who hosts a Boston public-affairs program on PBS; and Martha; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.