Emmy winner, stand-up comedian, sitcom writer, mentor and writer for Jay Leno, Bill Maher and Dennis Miller was 71

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Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Kevin Rooney died at his home on July 19 after a long battle with diabetes and end-stage kidney disease. He was 71 years old.

Rooney wrote Jay Lenofirst comedy special, Jay Leno and the American Dream. He also worked on “What’s my beef?” of Leno. tirades for Late Night with David Letterman in the 80s.

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“He was the greatest muse a comedian could have,” said Leno, who met Rooney at The Improv. “I got so much material just through conversations with Kevin. The first time I saw him, I was like, ‘Oh my god, this guy is really good.’ It’s a real voice. There’s no gimmicks. It had no slogan. There wasn’t a funny look. When times were tough, they throw the slogan or the funny look. Kevin had none of that.

Leno continued, “I don’t know anyone who thought they were better than Kevin Rooney. When Kevin came on stage, we all went inside. Me, Seinfeld, Larry Miller. By the end of the night, we were all saying, “Rooney’s story was really funny.

“We were all really happy when he was successful. He was a guy who deserved it, a unique voice. Never derived from anyone else. It was that classic New England sarcastic voice. But there was a humanity behind it. Even when he said the most sarcastic thing. He will be greatly missed. »

In 1977, Rooney accidentally took the stage for the first time to do stand-up at El Brookman’s in Washington DC and had a pitcher of beer poured over his head. He considered being a teacher, then got into stand-up comedy, moved to New York, then Los Angeles, where he became a regular at the Improv.

Rooney has done stand-up comedy all over the country, frequently appearing on The show tonight, Letterman and The A-list. Rooney started writing sitcoms in the 90s, starting with The Golden Palace so what The naked truth and Boston Township.

In 1989 he played Ira in When Harry Met Sally for director Rob Reiner.

But he was writing the “rants” for HBO The Dennis Miller Showfor which he won two consecutive Emmys.

In the early 2000s, Rooney continued to create pilots and wrote for politically incorrectbefore returning to sitcoms with My wife and children, Brothers and ‘until death. He had co-EP credits on My wife and ‘until death and an advisory producer loan on Brothers.

It was during this time that he became a mentor to many comedians and writers, including Judd Apatow who opens his Master Class series by talking about Kevin.

“Kevin Rooney was a very funny comedian, writer and political satirist. But more importantly, he was an incredibly kind friend and generous mentor to so many in our community,” Apatow said.

Rooney met and married singer/actress/writer Carole Raphaelle Davis in the late 90s, and the couple happily split their time between Nice, France and the hills of Hollywood, where they advocated for animal rights, ate delicious vegan meals and fought Kevin’s diabetes together. .

Kevin and Carole, or “The Raging Rooneys” as they were better known, always kept at least four adopted dogs, and when one passed, they rescued another homeless dog. In support of Carole’s work to abolish puppy mills, Kevin coined the phrase “Adopt, don’t buy” for her pet store protests. The phrase, now part of the lexicon, helped pass anti-puppy mill legislation in more than 200 cities.

Rooney continued to write daily, posting poignant comedic comments on Facebook.

He is survived by Carole, his sister Rebecca and his brother Matthew. He will also miss his dogs Bugsy and Micheline, as will many actors in the comedy community.

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