Of the Greatest Generation

He never wanted to talk about what he had seen.

He was typical of his generation, they just didn’t talk about it.

That is strange because he made a good living by talking. Or more accurately, reporting what he thought. He was a writer above all else. He was probably the most famous curmudgeon of all time.

He would complain. Like clockwork. For nigh thirty three years, every week, for a few minutes. Probably the best and funniest complainer on American TV.


Inspector Guardian, Andy Rooney, was of the Greatest Generation, born in 1920, and he served in World War II. As a reporter of Stars and Stripes, he was one of the first Americans to see the Nazi death camps. As to the War, he said “we didn’t talk about war during the war, and after the war we didn’t talk about it either: we wanted to forget.”

He joined the television show 60 Minutes in 1978, as a summer substitute for political debate segment “point/counterpoint.” His three minutes of humor on the small things of life was so popular, they dropped the debate segment and Rooney would do a three minute diatribe practically on anything he could think of.  Rooney typically offered satire on a trivial everyday issue, such as the cost of groceries, annoying relatives, or faulty Christmas presents. Rooney’s talk often included whimsical lists, e.g., types of milk, bottled water brands, car brands, sports mascots, …

On topics that interest them Guardians are able to store an enormous fund of facts, which they will call up and again freely associate in conversation … This is concrete information, concerning specific persons, products, times, places and lending itself to comparative value (this is better than that) and amount (too much, not enough) … Please Understand Me II

In his typical gruff and curmudgeonly jesting, Andy Rooney said, “I’ve done a lot of complaining here, but of all the things I’ve complained about, I can’t complain about my life.” He didn’t take himself too seriously and he was humble; but he was serious enough to raise four kids and be married to the same woman for 62 years. He loved his work, and didn’t want to retire. In fact, he died only four weeks after his last broadcast at the age of 92, and with that, those few minutes with Andy Rooney every Sunday night for more than three decades, like clockwork, his 1,097th commentary, finally came to an end.

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