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Andy Rooney to leave '60 Minutes' Sunday

Andy Rooney in his CBS office (Dec. 12,

Andy Rooney in his CBS office (Dec. 12, 1999) Credit: Newsday File / Ari Mintz

Andy Rooney, 92, one of the best-known figures of TV news, will step down from "60 Minutes" Sunday.

CBS said Tuesday Rooney will end his 33-year tenure with a closing essay preceded by a career retrospective interview with Morley Safer. Rooney contributed to "60 Minutes" its first year on the air, 1968, and joined the staff full-time in 1978. His ties to CBS date back to the mid-1960s, when he produced a series of essays with Harry Reasoner that would become the model for his famed "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney."

Rooney could not be reached Tuesday. His daughter, Boston PBS TV host Emily Rooney, reached by phone, said, "I think I and the rest of the family want to let dad have his say on Sunday."

Rooney, in fact, missed last Sunday's "60 Minutes," the first time his broadcast-closing essay had not appeared on a season launch since he joined the show. Rooney, who turns 93 in mid-January, missed several broadcasts last year as well. While there was nothing to suggest Tuesday that Rooney's retirement was anything but amicable, he and the network have had a wary relationship in recent years.

"There's nobody like Andy, and there never will be," Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" producer, said in a statement. "He'll hate hearing this, but he's an American original." But Fager added that Rooney might continue to contribute: "It's harder for him to do it every week, but he will always have the ability to speak his mind on '60 Minutes' when the urge hits him."

Rooney's style -- as part humorist, part critic -- has long been admired and parodied, but it also came to personify prime-time television's longest-running institution.

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