“Not many people in this world are as lucky as I have been,” said 60 Minutes commentator and resident grouch Andy Rooney at the beginning of his final appearance on the weekly news magazine. “I had an English teacher who told me I was a good writer,” he said, “so I set out to become a writer myself.” In his own eyes, Rooney was less TV icon than wry editorialist commenting on the mundane things that so often preoccupy all of us in our daily lives. But, for the millions who tuned in each and every week to hear his grumblings over the absurdities of modern life, Rooney was more than just a “good writer.” He was in many ways the stand-in for his viewers, complaining about and questioning the things that many who watched him didn’t think to examine. Of course, Rooney’s career full of bluntness and bluster was not without controversy –– according to The New York Times, he was suspended by CBS News in 1990 for some controversial comments he made about African Americans and “homosexual unions.” If legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite became America’s “Uncle Walter,” Rooney’s public image was more akin to that of the grumpy, opinionated (yet insightful) neighborhood grouch.
His absence has certainly been felt since he left 60 Minutes last month, but after death, his legacy will live on. CBS has compiled some of his most memorable commentaries online at 60 Minutes Overtime, and the irreverent “Andy Rooney Game” has become a popular Youtube meme. After decades on-air, Rooney will be immortalized by the digital age, sharing everyday wisdom, and grumbling away while he does it.