The Emmy winner, who contributed to The Dennis Miller Show and Jay Leno’s debut comedy special Jay Leno and the American Dream, died on July 9 at home following a protracted battle with diabetes and end-stage renal failure, according to Deadline.
His wife Carole Raphaelle Davis and his assistant Jay Mandyam both confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter.
Following their 1980s encounter at The Improv in New York City, Rooney started penning Leno’s “what’s my beef?” pieces for Late Night with David Letterman and later contributed to his 1986 comedy special, according to the source.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Leno remarked that he was the best muse a comedian could ever have. “Just talking to Kevin gave me so much information. I thought, “Oh my, this guy is pretty terrific,” when I first saw him. It is a genuine voice. There are no tricks. He lacked a signature phrase. There was no amusing expression.
“When times were tough, they would use a catchphrase or an amusing expression. That wasn’t anything Kevin had. Nobody thought they were better than Kevin Rooney, in my experience, he continued. “We’d all enter when Kevin ascended the stage. Larry Miller, [Jerry] Seinfeld, and I. We would all agree at the conclusion of the evening that Rooney’s story was hilarious. When he was successful, we were all truly delighted for him.
Rooney’s distinctive voice will be remembered, according to Leno.
Leno said of him, “He was a person who deserved it, a unique voice.” Never imitate someone else. That snarky voice from New England was there. However, it was motivated by humanity. even when he used the sharpest irony. His absence will be felt deeply.
So sad to hear about Kevin Rooney. He was hilariously funny. His material was so smart and biting. He wrote a lot of great material for Dennis Miller and Jay Leno. When I first started he was so kind and taught me so much about stand up and writing. A legendary person. RIP. https://t.co/U4yqCM4ag5 pic.twitter.com/m3pBLVj0BN
— Judd Apatow 🇺🇦 (@JuddApatow) July 10, 2022
According to his wife Carole Raphaelle Davis and friend and former aide Jay Mandyam, after a protracted battle with diabetes and end-stage renal failure. Rooney was now 71 years old.
Veteran stand-up comic Rooney won two Emmys in 1994 and 1995 for his writing on HBO’s Dennis Miller Live. Additionally, he trained Judd Apatow and other up-and-coming comics while working with Jay Leno.
After inadvertently making his stand-up debut in 1977 at El Brookman’s in Washington, D.C., where he got beer poured on his head, Rooney returned to stand-up comedy, first in New York City and then in Los Angeles, where he established himself as a regular at the Improv comedy club and met Leno, according to a notice provided by Mandyam.
Rooney has contributed his writing skills to sitcoms like Boston Common, My Wife and Kids, Brothers, ’til Death, The Naked Truth, and the Golden Girls spinoff The Golden Palace.
On late-night talk shows like The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman, he did comedy.
In a statement, Apatow said, “Kevin was the sweetest man, but he loved to yell – and when he did, no one was funnier.” “For penning lengthy tirades for Dennis Miller’s talk shows, he received two Emmy awards. Although he wasn’t well-known, the comedy community mourns him as one of the best of all time.”