Curmudgeonly Commentator Andy Rooney Says Goodbye to ’60 Minutes’

Tonight “60 Minutes” will mark 92-year-old television icon Andy Rooney’s final appearance as a regular contributor to the show.

Rooney first began doing his “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” segment in 1978. Tonight’s appearance will be his 1097th commentary.

Journalist Andy Rooney, of the news magazine "60 Minutes," poses in his office at CBS in New York in this June 19, 1998 photo. (Jim Cooper/AP Photo)

Rooney is leaving his position as a regular contributor for “60 Minutes,” but will still be able to make occasional appearances, CBS News announced.

“It’s harder for him to do it every week, but he will always have the ability to speak his mind on ’60 Minutes’ when the urge hits him,” said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of “60 Minutes.”

Rooney joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” and also wrote for “The Garry Moore Show” (1959-65) and CBS News public-affairs broadcasts such as “The Twentieth Century,” “News of America,” “Adventure,” “Calendar” and “The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr.”  He is the author of 16 books and many magazine articles.

Rooney’s 33-year CBS career has not all gone smoothly. In 1990, he was suspended without pay for three months after being quoted as saying that blacks had “watered down their genes because the less intelligent ones are the ones that have the most children” and that “too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead … to premature death.”

The ratings of “60 Minutes” took a hit, and after only three weeks, CBS put Rooney back on the air.

Rooney apologized publicly, thanking the CBS News president David Burke for his reinstatement.

“It’s overwhelming. … Let’s face it, even on the nights when I’m good, I’m not that good,” Rooney said then.

But Fager disagreed.

“There’s nobody like Andy and there never will be,” he said. “He’ll hate hearing this, but he’s an American original.”