Andy Rooney memorabilia on sale at Rowayton home this weekend
Did you ever want to know what kind of stuff Andy Rooney, the veteran CBS News reporter, author and curmudgeonly "60 Minutes" commentator, accumulated over a career that spanned seven decades before his death at age 92 last November?
The public can peer into the personal and professional life of the Rooney, as well as purchase some of his prized possessions this weekend during an estate sale at the home in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, where he lived with his family for more than 60 years.
Hundreds of people turned out for the first day of the four-day sale and auction, many anxious to own something that belonged to one of their favorite television personalities, others simply curious to see how Rooney lived in the waterside enclave.
The estate sale features everything from Rooney's vintage typewriters to memorabilia from his long journalism career and World War II to clothing he wore and furniture he made.
"For me it's more voyeuristic. He's been around forever and he knew so many people. I wondered if his house looked like his desk," said one woman, as she waited in line to enter the house at the corner of Rowayton Avenue and Hunt Street.
"I wanted to see how he lived. He was a very unpretentious man and it looks like he lived that way, too. He wasn't interested in impressing people with his thoughts or his material possessions," said Alice Gill of Fairfield, who "always watched him on `60 Minutes' and I have some of his books."
Elizabeth Jackson, who organized the estate sale, said more than 300 people went through Rooney's house Friday. Of most interest were his office, library and neckties.
"We never sold so many neckties. The cashiers said they were going 5 and 6 at a clip; a testament to the popularity of Andy Rooney," Jackson said.
"Everybody wanted to see his office and everybody wanted to see the typewriter," she added.
At first glance, Rooney did live modestly, and yet, he also had a taste for fine art and vintage furniture, most of which is included in the estate sale. Some items for sale include a large collection of American prints and oils, such as paintings and drawings by A. Calder, Ralston Crawford, Joseph Stell, Gertrude Fiske, Sheldon Pennoyer, Isabelle Bishop and Adolfo Rolla, as well as a signed Berenice Abbott photo, "Tredwell House," and original cartoons by Wingert, Stevenson and Darrow.
Furnishings include a gilt "grapevine" mirror and overmantle mirror, both from the 19th century; an early New York sideboard; 19th century tambour secretary with tiger maple and tiger maple side chairs; a Thomas Moser bowback stool; a double pedestal dining table with five leaves and set of eight dining chairs; Persian and Chinese carpets; a Portuguese grospoint rug, a Tiffany sterling coffeepot, circa 1930; Venetian glass and antique crystal, and a unique collection of early 19th century cast-iron cookie molds.
As curiosity seekers and serious buyers wandered through the house they also glimpsed artifacts from Rooney's life and long career in journalism and television. The living room did not reveal as much as did the basement and his second-floor bedroom, where his suit jackets and ties awaited new owners.
Look closely at those ties. Rooney wore some of them on air, and one woman was sure she recognized his Kermit the Frog tie.
Stepping down to the basement visitors were greeted first by nearly life-size cardboard cut-out images of Rooney and his wife Marguerite "Margie" Rooney. The basement also was the setting for memorabilia reflecting his other loves: journalism, history and woodworking. There were displays of Rooney's belongings related to World War II in which he served as a war correspondent. Available for purchase was an actual copy of the Stars and Stripes publication, dated May 8, 1945, on which he had a front-page article. Also available is his Army-issued canteen.
Rooney's photo ID press badge was draped across a framed Time magazine cover featuring Rooney in football gear. Surrounding those were many of his belongings that testified to his love for the New York Giants.
Included in the auction were Rooney's antique Underwood typewriter, circa 1923, and several other typewriters (he never used a computer) vintage desk chair, his portrait and a collection of reporter notepads.
The basement was a place where Rooney used his hands as well as his mind. There, he set up a woodworking shop where he constructed furniture as a hobby. In contrast to the decorative highboy in his living room, Rooney's furniture was simple yet functional.
The sale features three floors of collectibles, including old brass, vintage clothing and jewelry, programs from the New York Giants and Super Bowl souvenirs. Also on offer are a vintage sleigh bed, Federal twin beds, antique dolls and toys and a library collection with many vintage art books.
Rooney apparently loved to cook with his wife and his library reflects that as well. There were many cookbooks including an autographed copy of Wolfgang Puck's "Adventures in the Kitchen," in which he wrote "Mr. Rooney, good luck in the kitchen. P.S. I love your work on T.V."
Sandra McCue of Greenwich said she hoped to purchase "maybe a little letter opener," just to own a piece of the Rooney legacy. "I had to watch him every Sunday night. He was so unique. I liked his frankness. He said it the way he thought it should be," McCue said.
Ruthie Lovallo of Norwalk was interested in owning something from Rooney's journalistic profession. "I really enjoyed his newspaper writings. Many of them I clipped out and saved. They are relatable," she said.
Kathryn L. Blankenship, owner of Vintage Gardens in New Canaan, said the Rooney estate sale offered an opportunity to get some one-of-a-kind pieces. "I'm always looking for unusual containers for my orchid gardens. I will often buy small antiques -- end tables, sconces, interior decor pieces," she said.
The Rooney estate sale continues through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., each day, according to notices advertising by Elizabeth Jackson Estate Sales.
For directions and more details about the sale, check www.ejacksonllc.com