by Andy Rooney
One of the great pleasures of my life has been the famous people I've not only met but known.
Famous people don't get famous for no reason, so there's always something special about them.
It probably isn't a good thing to do, but when you write a newspaper column you're often looking for an idea. I'm going to write about a few of the famous people I've known. Not just met -- known.
The first very well-known person I ever met and got to know well was Dwight Eisenhower.
Ike (as he was called by everyone) was Commander in Chief of all our troops in Europe during World War II, when I was a reporter for the Stars and Stripes in London. I can't say we were close friends but we knew and liked each other. I know I liked Ike, anyway, and we saw each other often. I asked questions that he answered, and they were usually about something that was important to the several million American GIs in what we called "the ETO" -- The European Theater of Operations.
I was a young sergeant and it was a great feeling to be taken seriously by the Commander in Chief.
I often went to Ike's office in the 20 Grosvenor Square building in London to interview him. He seemed like such a good guy. Knowing him made me a big deal at the Stars and Stripes. (It seems like a terrible name for a newspaper now but I liked the name then and I still like it, corny though it may be. It had a special meaning. I met Ike just once in the White House after the war.
I knew Clark Gable. How's that for the opening line of a paragraph? Gable was the public relations officer for a B17 bomb group that I visited often. I went there as a reporter and got to know him pretty well.
After the war, I sold a book I'd written to Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and my friends there were plenty impressed the day Gable came into the cafeteria, saw me and came over and shook my hand. I pretended we were old friends. They don't make movie stars like Clark Gable anymore.
After the war, I flopped around and finally went to CBS looking for work.
I had known Ed Murrow during the war in London. I'm sorry to say Ed didn't give me a job, but I met Arthur Godfrey in the elevator by accident and ended up writing for him.
No one was ever bigger in the business than Godfrey and I finally made $600 a week -- close to all the money in the world, as far as I knew.
Arthur was on the air five days a week for an hour and a half each day.
On Monday nights, his show called "Talent Scouts" was No. 1 week after week for several years and his Wednesday night program, "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends" was right behind it. No one ever made the money for a television network that Godfrey made for CBS.
I got a little piece of it and it seemed very good to me at a time when we had four kids growing up. Arthur was a real bastard (can I use "bastard" here?) but he was good, too, and he dominated radio and television for many years. Working for him was a great start for me in the business.
After I wrote for Godfrey, I quit in a huff one day and was out of work for several months. Then I met Harry Reasoner one day, soon after he came to CBS, and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Harry died too young but he may have been the best newsman who was ever on the air.
I've met many more well-known people over the years ... too numerous to tell you about.
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