He’s entertained us and made us scratch our heads every week for more than 30 years. But it’s possible that’s all you got out of Andy Rooney over that time. If so, that was probably enough.
Like Brett Favre, George Burns, Bob Hope and Charlie Sheen he didn’t relish the idea of giving up his center stage. Hopefully, the fact that he’s from Hope and Burns’ generation means we won’t have to watch him cry on national TV or endure childish drunken acting out when he checks out at CBS today.
Whether, Rooney tickled your funny bone every time you looked at those wild eyebrows or you felt like what he offered up was pure nonsense, I’m here to tell you he’s the real deal and one of the last remaining public voices from that generation.
It was obvious from watching his work on TV that he was a writer first and foremost but it’s hard to believe he didn’t relish playing the grumpy old grandfather to a good part of the country every Sunday night in “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney” on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
Having started out as a war correspondent in World War II he earned his writer’s stripes legitimately with Stars and Stripes, covering the first U.S. bombing of Germany and being on hand when the first Nazi concentration camps were liberated.
That alone would be enough to change and shape a life but he also took notes as we raced to space, fought for racial equality, struggled in the quagmire of Vietnam and entered the online era of Face Book, Twitter and Google.
No wonder he was so grumpy, none of us like that much change in our lives. In his later years he was lucky enough to have the outlet and talented enough to survive the television business as he poked back at progress.
I watched Rooney early in his “60 Minutes” career pretty faithfully, the news magazine format on TV was in its infancy and CBS owned the franchise. I sought out that in-depth coverage of news stories; I gobbled it up back then. Andy was just the icing on the cake.
But I’ll admit these days I rarely watch. My attention span seems to have reverted to childhood and the reporters don’t seem as good or as unbiased as they once were. There’s probably still a market for Andy Rooney, even at 92 but “60 Minutes” isn’t it.
I suppose if a Favre-like urge seizes him in a few months he could try a comeback at the end of a reality show each week. Maybe be a judge on one of those talent or dance shows. Then again, it’s probably more likely he’ll fill the mahogany desk he built himself with booze and dope and hire five hookers for a party.
It’s tough to realize that those of us within the bushy brow set will all fade away sooner or later no matter how funny and entertaining we believe ourselves to be.
Karl Terry is a former ink-stained wretch and curmudgeon who combs his eyebrows with a wagon wheel each morning.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org