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Rooney signs off on "60 Minutes" but "not retiring"

Oct 3, 2011, 8:17 a.m.
CBS News 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney arrives for the funeral service for longtime CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite at St.Bartholomew's Church in New York, July 23, 2009. REUTERS/ Mike Segar

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In his final regular appearance on the CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes," Andy Rooney expressed gratitude for a "lucky" life and thanked his fans, but not without adding a touch of the curmudgeonly grumbling that has become a signature element of his TV essays.

"I've done a lot of complaining here," the 92 year-old Rooney said, "but of all the things I've complained about, I can't complain about my life."

Sunday night's installment of "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" capped a 33-year run for the end-of-show segment in which Rooney famously commented on everything from trivial items -- often displaying collections of household possessions, wanted and unwanted -- to societal issues.

During his valedictory segment, Rooney thanked viewers for their good wishes, while admitting that he's not comfortable with adulation. "I wasn't always gracious about it," he said. "I don't say this often, but thank you. Although if you do see me in a restaurant, please, just let me eat my dinner."

His "60 Minutes" tenure wasn't without controversy. He was suspended without pay in 1990 over on-air remarks that were considered offensive to homosexuals, but quickly reinstated after the CBS show experienced a sizable dip in audience share. Four years later he apologized to viewers for comments about musician Kurt Cobain's suicide that were deemed insensitive.

Rooney, who joined the network in 1949 as a writer for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts," said on Sunday it was his love of the written word that led him to pursue a career in broadcasting.

"I don't think of myself as a television personality," Rooney said. "I'm a writer who reads what he's written."

He began his 70-year journalism career on the U.S. Army's "Stars and Stripes" newspaper, and his "60 Minutes" essays often included references to his military years and tributes to the men with whom he served during World War II.

"This is a moment I have dreaded," Rooney said of Sunday's farewell telecast. "I wish I could do this forever. ... But I'm not retiring. Writers don't retire, and I'll always be a writer."

(Reporting by Sheri Linden; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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