I’m lucky to have had the life I’ve had
Not many people in this world are as lucky as I’ve been. When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who told me I was a good writer, so I set out to become a writer myself. I’ve made my living as a writer for 70 years now. It’s been pretty good.
During World War II, I wrote for the Army newspaper the Stars and Stripes. After the war, I went to work in radio and television because I didn’t think anyone was paying enough attention to the written word.
I worked with a lot of great people who had the voice for radio, or they looked good on television. But someone had to write what they said, and that was me.
When I went on television, it was as a writer. I don’t think of myself as a television personality. I’m a writer who reads what he’s written.
People have often told me I said the things they are thinking themselves. I probably haven’t said anything here that you didn’t already know or have already thought. That’s what a writer does. There aren’t too many original thoughts in the world.
A writers’ job is to tell the truth. I believe that if all the truth were known about everything in the world it would be a better place to live. I know I’ve been terribly wrong sometimes, but I think I’ve been right more often than I’ve been wrong.
I may have given the impression that I don’t care what anyone else thinks, but I do care. I care a lot. I have always hoped that people will like what I’ve written. Being liked is nice, but it’s not my intent.
I spent my first 50 years trying to become well known as a writer, and the next 30 trying to avoid being famous. I walk down the street now or go to a football game and people shout, “Hey, Andy!” and I hate that.
I’ve done a lot of complaining here, but of all the things I’ve complained about, I can’t complain about my life. My wife, Margie, and I had four good kids. Now there are grandchildren. I have two great-grandchildren, although they’re a little young for me to know how great they are.
And all this time I’ve been paid to say what is on my mind on television. You don’t get any luckier in life than that. This is a moment I have dreaded. I wish I could do this forever. I can’t, though. But, I’m not retiring. Writers don’t retire and I’ll always be a writer.
A lot of you have sent me wonderful letters and said good things to me when you meet me in the street. I wasn’t always gracious about it. It’s hard to accept being liked. 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.
(This was Andy Rooney’s final commentary for CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011.)
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