Posts Tagged ‘60 Minutes’

A Few Words from Andy Rooney

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

A Few Words from Andy Rooney: A face of America Commentary

By Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

A writer’s job is to tell truth. Andy Rooney

The news of Andy Rooney’s death took me by surprise. It came on a day when I was thinking about death of another kind. That’s a story for another day.

Andy Rooney lived a charmed life. He did what he loved to do. He wrote for a living. At first he did it for others, and then, when he was old enough to be a grandfather, he did it in a very public way for the most celebrated news magazine on television, 60 Minutes.

Rooney was blessed with a name that was easy to remember, and a way with words that was hard to forget. At 60 Minutes he had a boss, Don Hewitt, who believed that words, not gimmicks, made good stories. That being said, it was what Andy Rooney did with words that made all the difference.

When you and I look at a door, it is something that allows entry and exit. When Andy Rooney looked at a door, it became a highly respected television special.

Andy Rooney was a little bit of all of us; impatient to be sure, observant to his advantage and our delight, and grumpy when his privacy was violated. 

At times he was impulsive and insensitive. He paid a price for that, but he redeemed himself with the honesty he sought in others. A thoughtless remark about homosexuals resulted in firestorm of protest. It produced a genuine apology: “I am guilty of what I said about gays, and I deeply regret having offended them, but on the other charge, I am absolutely innocent. I never made any remark about blacks having ‘watered down’ their genes.”

I once had the pleasure of walking behind Andy Rooney on West 42d street in the shadow of the nondescript building that is the home of CBS in New York.  He was smaller than I imagined and slower moving than one would expect. His appearance was anything but impressive, and he had the biggest feet I have ever seen.

None of these imperfections mattered very much, because the words he used enabled him to connect with us.

These are some of the most memorable words to come from Rooney’s brilliant mind, and his carefully guarded heart. They speak to the strength of his character and the reason for our admiration.

“All men are not created equal but should be treated as though they were under the law.”

“Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.”

“Don’t rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.”

“If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.”

“People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.”

“The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.”

“The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort – the opening, terror. Conversely, the closing of a door can be a sad and final thing – the opening a wonderfully joyous moment.”

“We’re all proud of making little mistakes. It gives us the feeling we don’t make any big ones.”

“A writer’s greatest pleasure is revealing to people things they knew but did not know they knew. Or did not realize everyone else knew, too. This produces a warm sense of fellow feeling and is the best a writer can do.”

“I think of myself as a critic. We need all types in the world. We need poets and we need people who can make things. And … we need critics of the things that are made, too.”

“Death is a distant rumor to the young.”

“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”

In my opinion, Andy Rooney was a Face of America on its best day.  He was simply the best at what he did.  His artfully crafted words made us laugh, cry, think, celebrate and give thanks for the blessings we enjoy as Americans. He was a member of the greatest generation who taught us in words and actions how to be our own greatest generation.

This is a sad day for television news because we have lost a giant who will never be replaced.  Thank you, Andy Rooney for showing us the way to maximize freedom of speech, critical thinking and storytelling with meaning and purpose.

You and your work will be remembered by more than five or six people because you were a teacher’s teacher with a magical gift of words.

(Photograph by Stevenson Brown uploaded to Flickr and available in Wikimedia Commons)

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