Special: Happy 35th Birthday!

<b>Andy Rooney </b> Celebrates 35 Years Of <B>60 Minutes</B>

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney. It originally aired on May 18, 2003.
This is an unusual event - a 35th birthday party for a television show.

Whales live to be 80, owls live to be 50, and elephants live to be 70.

People live to be in their 90s now.

The life expectancy of the average television show is two years. Even the good ones don't usually last more than five.

Arthur Godfrey's "Talent Scouts" show was No. 1 in 1951. I was paid $150 a week to write that.

"I Love Lucy" was No. 1 for five years.

"Gunsmoke" was most popular for three years.

"The Beverly Hillbillies" was the worst No. 1 show.

"All In The Family" was No. 1 for five years and deserved to be.

"Dallas" was No. 1 three times.

"The Cosby Show" had three great years at the top. "Cheers" was the best while it lasted.

And nothing was ever better than "Seinfeld," which was No. 1 in 1994, 1995 and 1997.

They're all gone now but this.

60 Minutes has been phenomenally successful for a show that only appeals to adults and smart kids. It was the most-watched television show in 1982, and again in 1992 and 1993. It was in the top ten longer than any show in broadcast history.

There are a lot of 60 Minutes statistics though that no one ever hears.

For example, in the 12 years that Lesley Stahl has been on the show she has never worn the same piece of clothing twice.

Her closets runneth over. It seems like a waste, considering that Lesley wouldn't look bad in a brown paper bag.

Morley Safer, on the other hand, doesn't spend much on clothes. He has six Turnbull & Asser shirts from London – they're all blue checks. This is his way of making sure no one confuses him with Lesley.

Ed Bradley spends more on clothes than Lesley does, but his suits are so conservative you don't notice. Ed always wears an earring that goes with his jacket.

Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner were the two original correspondents on 60 Minutes when I was a writer and producer for Harry. It was very sad for all of us, especially for me, when Harry died in 1991. I lost my star. I lost my friend.

Mike Wallace has done the most reports for 60 Minutes, more than 1,000. He reminds us of Jesus Christ here at 60 Minutes. When he interviews someone, they get crucified.

Steve Kroft is youngest. He doesn't remember the early years of 60 Minutes because I think he was still in junior high.

Diane Sawyer was on the show for five years. I was briefly in love with Diane, but then she cut her hair.

Some things improve with age. It is my biased opinion that 60 Minutes has been better than ever in its 35th year.


Mozart died when he was 35, but his music is still played 212 years later – as good as ever. Old television broadcasts don't stand up that well. I'd hate to have some of the things I've done shown 212 years from now. They looked funny already.

Producer Don Hewitt has made 60 Minutes what it has been for 35 years. I've known him since 1942, when we met in the Stars and Stripes office in London, where we were both reporters. Don was young then, and the best thing about him is he never grew up.

This is a special moment that I have dreaded, but it seems like a good time though to make a personal announcement.

I've been writing for television since there was television. I've done 800 of these essays in the 25 years I've been on 60 Minutes.

I've saved some money and I'd like to travel. I'd like to spend more time with my family. What I want to tell you is I'm not going to do any of those things, and I'll be back here again next year.
  • Rebecca Leung

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