A Guide to the Andy Rooney Papers, 1922-2011
Journalist and author Andrew Aitken Rooney was born in Albany, New York, on January 14, 1919. Rooney attended The Albany Academy from 1932 to 1938, where he began his writing career as a contributor to the student magazine The Cue. At Colgate University, Rooney served as editor of Colgate’s magazine The Banter and played on the school’s football team, a reflection of his life-long love affair with the game.
In 1941, Rooney was drafted into the United States Army. Although he arrived in England as part of the 17th Field Artillery Regiment in 1942, that same year he answered a call for reporters for The Stars and Stripes, the Armed Forces daily newspaper. As a writer for the London-based publication, Rooney counted among his colleagues United Press reporter Walter Cronkite, Stars and Stripes correspondent Don Hewitt, and Edward R. Murrow.
Rooney flew on the second bombing raid over Germany as part of the so-called “Writing 69th,” a group of eight war correspondents trained to fly on bomber missions with the Eighth Air Force. He arrived on the beaches of Normandy shortly after D-Day, accompanied the French Seconde Division Blindé into Paris, covered the battle of St. Lô, and was among the first American reporters granted access to Nazi concentration camps.
After the War, Rooney published The Story of the Stars and Stripes with Bud Hutton and worked as a freelance journalist. In 1949, Rooney began writing for Arthur Godfrey’s CBS radio and television programs including The Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Rooney continued to work for the CBS Radio Network, CBS-TV, and CBS News. He wrote for Godfrey until 1955 and was a writer for The Garry Moore Show from 1959 to 1965. Rooney also contributed to The Moring Show with Will Rogers, Jr., News of America, Adventure, and The Twentieth Century. Rooney adapted E. B. White’s essay “Here is New York” for TV in 1957.
Rooney’s partnership with CBS newsman Harry Reasoner began in the early 1960s with Calendar, a live broadcast with Reasoner and Mary Fickett. From 1962 to 1968 Rooney worked as a writer and producer for CBS News, with Reasoner and Rooney collaborating on an array of television essays, a format that Rooney pioneered. Programs included “An Essay on Doors” (1964), “An Essay on Bridges,” (1965), “An Essay on Hotels” (1966), “An Essay on Women” (1967), “An Essay on Chairs” (1968), and “The Strange Case of the English Language” (1968). Rooney contributed two scripts to the series Of Black America in 1968. Narrated by Bill Cosby, “Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed” won Rooney both a Writers Guild Award and his first Emmy Award.
Throughout the 1970s, Rooney continued to write and produce television broadcast specials, including “An Essay on War” (1971), “In Praise of New York City” (1974), “Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington” (1975), “Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner” (1976), and “Mr. Rooney Goes to Work” (1977). When CBS refused to air “An Essay on War” in 1970, Rooney bought the rights to it. The award-winning work aired on PBS’ The Great American Dream Machine in 1971 and marked the first time Rooney narrated his own work on air. “Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington” earned Rooney both a Peabody and Writers Guild Award.
Rooney’s affiliation with 60 Minutes began in 1968. Although Rooney moved from CBS to ABC in 1971, he rejoined CBS in 1972; he remained affiliated with the network for the rest of his career. Rooney became a regular on 60 Minutes in 1978, when his weekly segment, “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” first aired. The segment, which occupied the final minutes of each broadcast, offered commentary about every day life as well as more serious political issues. He produced new segments until his retirement on October 2, 2011.
A prolific writer throughout his life, Rooney authored a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column for the Tribune Media Services beginning in 1979. He also contributed articles to magazine such as Esquire, Life, Look, Reader's Digest, Harpers, and Playboy. Rooney was the author of 16 books: The Story of the Stars and Stripes; Air Gunner; Conquerors’ Peace; The Fortures of War; A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney; And More by Andy Rooney; Pieces of My Mind; Word for Word; Not That You Asked…; Sweet and Sour; My War; Sincerely, Andy Rooney; Common Nonsense; Years of Minutes; Out of My Mind; and Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit.
Over the course of his career, Rooney received numerous awards including the Bronze Star for World War II reporting, several Writers’ Guild Awards, a Peabody, the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award, and several Emmy Awards. He died on November 4, 2011, only weeks after his final appearance on 60 Minutes.
The Andy Rooney Papers, 1922-2011, reflect Rooney’s professional and personal activities throughout his lifelong career in written and broadcast journalism. Broadcast transcripts and script drafts, creative works, manuscripts, correspondence, columns, newspaper clippings, photographs, audiovisual materials, and artifacts document both his writing career and the evolution of the broadcast industry.
The papers are arranged in seven series: Broadcast Materials; Writings; Correspondence, Speeches, and Assorted Files; World War II; Audiovisual; Photographs; and Artifacts. The inventory largely reflects the order of the collection as received by the archive; all efforts were made to maintain existing order. As a result, the series reflect broad categories, but similar types of materials can be found across multiple series.
The bulk of the collection is comprised of broadcast materials. The Broadcast Materials series includes numerous draft script segments from Rooney’s early years as a writer for Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television programs as well as transcripts of The Garry Moore Radio Show; a comprehensive subject index exists for the latter. In addition, transcripts, drafts, research material, notes, correspondence, and memos document his activities during his years at 60 Minutes and as a writer and producer for the CBS, PBS, and ABC television networks.
The Writings series is divided into two subseries, Writings by Rooney and Writings by Others. The Writings by Rooney subseries illuminates Rooney’s activities as a published author. The bulk of the subseries relates to his twice-weekly syndicated column for the Tribune Media Services and includes column drafts and final transcripts, related research material, and newspaper column clippings. Also included are draft versions of short creative works, published articles, and selected book drafts.
The Writings by Others subseries consists of Rooney’s collection of press clippings and assorted printed material. The majority of articles document his broadcasting and journalistic career. Numerous unsorted television show and book reviews are also included, although similar clippings may be found within show titles in the Broadcast Materials series as well.
The Correspondence, Speeches, and Assorted Files series encompasses general correspondence, materials related to speaking engagements, awards, and documents not clearly connected to the series listed above. Included are research files, event invitations, award certificates, and materials documenting Rooney’s legal battle with Unelko Corp., the makers of Rain-X. Although this series includes the bulk of Rooney’s personal and professional correspondence, similar material can be found throughout the collection.
The World War II series covers Rooney’s activities as a war correspondent for the Stars and Stripes and contains printed material, correspondence, and research material regarding the War. Articles authored by Rooney, World War II commemorative materials, selected broadcast transcripts, and materials related to his book My War further illuminate his activities during this time period.
A variety of formats, including Betacam SP, VHS, and audiocassette tapes, capture Rooney’s broadcasting career in the Audiovisual series. In addition to 60 Minutes segments, this body of material features Rooney’s news and talk show appearances, speeches, and selected television essays.
Photographs, the sixth series, comprises black and white and color prints and negatives. The majority of the photos consist of professional publicity photos and broadcast stills, but artwork from the book My War and other military-related photos are also represented. The series contains a limited number of personal photographs.
Rooney’s collection of artifacts, which includes numerous awards and personal effects, has been separated to the Briscoe Center’s Artifact Collection. Included are several Emmy Awards, commemorative plaques, and World War II-related memorabilia.
These papers are stored remotely. Advanced notice is required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Use of audio and video materials by appointment only; please contact repository for more information.
Andy Rooney Papers, 1922-2011, Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
Andy Rooney Papers