Rooney remembers Joe Wershba

Pays tribute to the legendary newsman and "60 Minutes" producer

Joe Wershba, a great and much loved "60 Minutes" producer and a good fried of mine died last Saturday; Joe was 90 years old. I remember writing this about Joe 33 years ago, soon after a fancy party was thrown to celebrate the 10th anniversary of "60 Minutes."

At the party in 1978 each of the four correspondents at the time said a few words. William Paley, the chairman of the board of CBS spoke, as did countless other CBS executives. Don Hewitt, the executive producer at "60 Minutes" spoke.

After all the important people had finished, a spontaneous cry went up from the crowd of 150 people in the room: "Wershba..."Wershba...Wershba!" they yelled.

Joe got to his feet with a smile on his face and got the biggest round of applause of the evening.

What had Joe Wershba done to deserve all this? Well, he'd been the best among them at "60 Minutes," that's all. And he was for 20 years.

Television critics and competing broadcasters from other networks have searched for the secret of the success of "60 Minutes." Some think it is the mix of the correspondents. Some give all the credit to Don Hewitt or to Bill Leonard, who was the CBS News president when it started.

The fact is, "60 Minutes" has been as good, substantial and successful as it is because it has some great producers and Joe Wershba was the most loved among them.

Written by Andy Rooney