A little more than a month after his final commentary aired on "60 Minutes," Andy Rooney died Friday night of complications following minor surgery in a hospital in New York City. He was 92.
"It's a sad day at '60 Minutes' and for everybody here at CBS News," said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of "60 Minutes." "It's hard to imagine not having Andy around. He loved his life and he lived it on his own terms. We will miss him very much."
The legendary newsman worked for more than 60 years at CBS, with 30 of them behind the camera as a writer and producer. In his later years, he was best known for his insightful, funny and oftentimes cranky commentaries on "60 Minutes." "I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought," Rooney told the Associated Press in 1998. "And they say, 'Hey, yeah!' And they like that."
While Rooney was famous, I can't say that the man was charitable. As he related in some of his commentaries, he wasn't a fan of giving anything away (admitting that he keeps everything), even to raise money for a nonprofit. In later years, he stopped giving signatures unless it was for a worthy cause — but even then, I doubt he would have.
"What kind of an idiot would want my name on a piece of paper?" he said. "I'm always flattered when people write for my autograph or a photograph; however, I've stopped responding, unless I can verify it's for a charity auction. The reason is I've been told you can buy a signed picture of me on the Internet, so who knows how much to believe of all those complimentary words?"
Those suspicions are evident in a 1983 article titled Charity is Never Easy. In it, Rooney goes through the motions that many of us likely perform in our heads when it comes time to decide whether or not to part with our cash to help others.
"There are so many people and organizations that need and deserve help that it's more than I can stand to think about sometimes," he wrote. "I'm eating too much and there are people starving. It would be better for all of us if I split what's on my plate with them, but how do I do that? It simply is not easy to be charitable."
Rooney goes on to say that it's our excuses that likely get in the way of opening our wallets.
"Very few of us 'give 'til it hurts.' We wait until we have enough so it doesn't hurt much, then we give. We find ways to let ourselves off. We say to ourselves that we're suspicious of how this charity spends its money, or we don't like the new policy of this school or that organization. It's easy to find some excuse not to give and, of course, it's necessary that we have excuses. It is true that we can't give to everyone."
"Charity is never easy," he added, ending the piece on a trademark sour note of truth. "So many of the people who need it don't seem to deserve it and that provides a wonderful excuse for all of us not to give much."
You can view Andy's final commentary on "60 Minutes" below.