Andy Rooney might have been the only person who didn't think of himself first and foremost as a curmudgeon.
Rooney, whose trenchant commentaries on war, clutter and Lady Gaga were part of 60 Minutes for 33 years, died Friday in a New York City hospital due to complications following minor surgery, CBS announced.
He was 92.
The prime-time fixture retired from the newsmagazine on Oct. 2. He underwent surgery three weeks later. The reason for the surgery was not disclosed.
Before joining 60 Minutes in 1978, Rooney served in and covered World War II, worked in Hollywood, wrote for radio and produced network-news documentaries. He moved in front of the camera in the mid-1970s for a series of prime-time specials that, more than anything, starred his point of view.
"My knack is for observing something everyone knows about," he told the Associated Press in 1978, "but from different angles."
Rooney became known, and mocked for, musing aloud about the mundane, but he addressed weightier subjects too, such as the Iraq War. ("So far almost 2,800 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq," Rooney said in a 2006 piece. "And for what?")
In 1990, Rooney served a one-month suspension from 60 Minutes for an alleged racist remark made as he defended a homophobic remark. In 1994, he took Kurt Cobain to task days after the Nirvana rocker was found dead: "This picture shows him in a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee. I doubt that Kurt Cobain ever did enough work to wear a hole in his pants." In 2004, he called Mel Gibson and televangelist Pat Robertson "wackos."
Rooney withstood both controversy and competition, including 60 Minutes' brief flirtation in the 1990s with a trio of rival commentators.
"There's nobody like Andy, and there never will be," CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager said upon Rooney's retirement.
In a statement after Rooney's passing, CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves hailed the man, and his legacy.
"Words cannot adequately express Andy's contribution to the world of journalism and the impact he made—as a colleague and friend—upon everyone at CBS," Moonves said.
In his final on-air commentary, Rooney conceded that he'd done "a lot of complaining."
"But of all the things I've complained about," he said, "I can't complain about my life."
As for what Rooney thought of himself as? He thought of himself as a writer.