ANDREW HEYWARD: Well, Mike gave it away.
A few minutes with Andy Rooney, who was a longtime friend of Charles
ANDY ROONEY: I resent his being called Andrew, instead of Andy.
You know, that's why I never got to be president of anything.
You have to assume when you get up here to speak, after nine other speakers,
that no one has spoken before you because, inevitably, most of what
you had planned to say has already been said. I'd also like to say to
Mike, when you turn 78, you begin to take this kind of an event seriously,
I was asked if I'd like to speak, and to say that I'd like to speak
isn't exactly it. I think all of us who have spoken today feel the same:
we're pleased to be recognized as friends of Charles Kuralt. We are
more honored than honoring.
Petie reminded me that on the occasion of Charles's departure from CBS,
I said that if he didn't stop smoking, I wouldn't speak at his funeral.
I guess I foolishly hoped it would have some effect. I don't know what
I meantcertainly I didn't plan to be here.
When the call came saying that Charles had died, I wept. I was on vacation,
working in my woodworking shop, and I noticed, just the day before yesterday,
that there are little spots of rust on the big steel table of my saw
where my tears fell that day.
My sadness was mitigated with a touch of anger. I was angry with Charles
in a way. He made us all love him and then he left us without himself.
He often did that.
It did not occur to me many years ago, when I first thought about how
I'd love to live a long life, that living long would be so sad. I hadn't
thought of the friends I'd lose along the wayand I have lost so
many now. Many of them have been mentioned today. Harry was such a good
friend of Charles's, and their mutual interest was intellect.
If this event were for another one of us today, I'm not sure Charles
would be here. He cared about his friends, but there were things he
didn't dohe usually had to be somewhere else. He and I had a party
for Shad two years ago. He appreciated that Shad had created the style
of the best show we ever did regularly. We found about 7s people who
were still speaking to Shad. Two days before the party, Charles had
bypass surgery. Someone said that he had to choose between bypass surgery
and going to a party for Shadand he chose bypass surgery.
I'll say what I've said before and everyone has said: Charles Kuralt
did everything in television news better than anyone else. There has
never been anyone as good as he was at everything. It's interesting,
too, that the rest of us never resented him for doing it better, as
we might have resented someone else.
Charles and I went to 10 or 12 political conventions together and usually
set out to do our own feature pieces. When we were out with the camera
crew, we often worked together, shoulder to shoulder, in a trailer or
wherever we were set up. We'd go out to dinner together. Then the broadcast
would go on the air and I'd watch what Charles had done and I'd watch
what I had done, and I remember sitting back a dozen times and thinking,
"My gosh, he's better than I am." I don't do that with many
I have always followed Charles in so many ways. Several years ago, I
was sitting in my office and I got a call from group of doctors in Pittsburgh
and they wanted me to speak at a convention. The representative said,
"Would you speak to our group?" and I said, "I really
can't." And he said, "Oh, please, Andy, they really want you.
I mean, you're the best," and I said, "I just can't do it."
He said, "Andy, it would make our convention if you would speak."
I said, "I just can't do it." I said, "Why don't you
call Charles Kuralt?" He said, "I just called him and he won't
do it either."
It isn't clear to me how Charles will be known or remembered in years
to come. It may not seem so today, as we extol his virtues, but it seems
quite possible that Charles Kuralt's talent exceeded his reputation
and exceeded the talent of some of the legends of our past, people who
Charles Kuralt was no less talented than Boswell, Samuel Pepys, Ralph
Waldo Emerson, Thoreau, Charles Lamb, even Mark Twain. All their names
are in the encyclopedia. Their memories are immortal. Will Charles Kuralt's
name be so immortalized? I'm not sure it will be, and this seems wrong.
There's something limiting about the medium Charles worked intelevision.
What he did too quickly went up in smoke and all but disappeared. The
museum does a good job, but Bernie Birnbaum is the only person who remembers
or knows where some of Charles's pieces are.
In 50 or 100 years, I'm not sure Charles Kuralt will be remembered as
some people of lesser talent than his will be, and that's wrong. He's
too good to settle for being listed in Who's Who for 1997. I wish I
could tell a class of young students, 50 or 100 years from now, how
great Charles Kuralt was. I wish I could make them understand that,
in his own medium, Charles Kuralt was as good as Mark Twain.
Charles suffered from a restlessness that kept him from fully enjoying
his success. He had to keep moving; that's why he left CBS. No matter
where he was, he wanted to go someplace else. He loved North Carolina,
but I've been in North Carolina with him, and whenever he was there,
he wanted to leave.
Karen told me of the letter Charles asked her to send the day before
he died to the president of the University of North Carolina. He expressed
a desire to be buried on the campus of the University. He is buried
there, but I know Charles and I know he won't be content there either.
ANDREW HEYWARD: Thank you so much to the speakers and to all of
you for coming today. We would like all of youeverybody, family,
friends, colleagues, members of the public who've come here todayto
join us for a reception in the lobby area afterwards. Thanks very much
and have a good day.
An intellectually stimulating collection of insightful
and occasionally poignant commentaries, Charles Kuralt's People is
very highly recommended reading for students of the human condition in
and legions of Charles Kuralt fans in particular. — Midwest Book
for more info.
Hard cover, 386 pages, $25.95 plus $3.95 Priority
Mail shipping. (NC residents must add 6 percent sales tax.)
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Publishers of the first edition of "Remembering Charles Kuralt,"
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