"So Long, Andy Rooney"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011

Last week, television’s most popular, crabby old man passed away. It was a great loss for me. Andy Rooney was my favorite commentator and I liked to think of him as my mentor.

When he first began writing his “essays,” he used his full name on book jackets and various TV listings — Andrew A. Rooney. As his popularity increased and we all grew to admire and love him, he became just plain Andy, an icon and the most popular curmudgeon on TV.

Andy joined 60 Minutes in 1978 and was often the driving force of the Sunday evening show. His admirers were so adamantly dedicated to his segment (which was very brief), when it was suspended for a controversial statement he made, the show’s ratings plunged. He was supposed to be off for three months but after a few weeks of poor ratings, CBS reversed its decision and reinstated him. No matter what he said after that, his segment was never taken off the air.

Andy was able to understand how – and why — the average person would be amused, irritated or entertained by an odd subject or object. His brief essays always hit the mark: “Why is there so much cotton and so little content in so many bottles?”

His questions would start a discussion around many coffee shops and kitchen tables. I know I always wondered about that one. Andy would often draw out thoughts, and in many cases, ideas from our minds.

Anyone who watched Andy’s segment would note how he made comments they would have made themselves. It was as though he were reading minds; he was that in tune with everyone. One thing I always admired about him was he resisted giving in to the world of electronics. He often repeated how he loved his old Underwood and said it was all he needed to do his work. Andy could find no great accomplishment in the electronics, saying, “How could they put so much in such small devices which makes them hard to read, hear or use.”

After being forced to put a computer on his desk he still lamented the loss of his old typewriter.

During Andy’s last interview on 60 Minutes, we learned he had a tender side to his seemingly crabby nature. He told Morley Safer he was so saddened by the loss of his wife Margie he could hardly speak of her, saying that she took a great deal of his spirit with her.

It was amazing to me the extent of TV coverage Andy’s passing elicited as all the major networks paid tribute to him.

They acknowledged to their viewers how great his popularity was.

As I see it, we can all agree with what his daughter said during an interview with Gail Shister: “People got my dad. They knew who he was. He wasn’t some crank who went on “60 Minutes” once a week, he was ‘everyman.’”

Many of my readers know of my respect and admiration for Andy’s work; some even refer to my “Andy Rooney flavor” when corresponding with me. I hope to continue writing with an Andy flavor but at no time will I ever get even close to his astute ability to read human nature.

I sure will miss Andy, perhaps so much I’ll stop watching “60 minutes.” I have four of his books in my library, though, and look forward to reading through them whenever I need a curmudgeon fix.




Return to Home Page of Tipsforboating.com


Copyright © Fred Davis. All rights reserved.