Andy Rooney: "My Lucky Life"

Andy Rooney's last regularly scheduled appearance on "60 Minutes," where he has had the final word since 1978

Not many people in this world are as lucky as I have 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 seventy 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.

Photos: Andy Rooney

The best of Andy Rooney
There is no better way to celebrate Andy Rooney's work than to let Andy do the talking.

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 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 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 grand children 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.

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