The man who hosted the longest-running quiz show in the history of television has died. The Washington Post reports that Washington, D.C., radio and television personality Mac McGarry died Thursday at his home in Potomac. He was 87.
McGarry reportedly died of complications from pneumonia.
McGarry hosted the Washington-based high school quiz competition “It’s Academic” for half a century. The show, which went on the air on Oct. 7, 1961, is recognized as the longest continuously running TV quiz program of all time.
“With an easy-going baritone that sounded like a throwback to the days of fedoras and big bands, Mr. McGarry thrived well into the Internet age," the story reports. "As host of ‘It’s Academic’ … he liked to describe himself as the area’s most inquisitive man."
McGarry also covered presidential inaugurations and hosted a big-band radio show, among other accomplishments, the story notes.
“But it was as the bespectacled face of ‘It’s Academic’ that Mr. McGarry became a Saturday staple for generations of Washington brainiacs who competed for scholarship money and intellectual glory," the report adds. "So earnestly does the weekly program take academic achievement that cheerleaders and marching bands became part of the show’s backdrop, rooting on their school’s teams."
McGarry hosted the program until June 2011.
Actress Sandra Bullock, who attended Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School, appeared on the show as a cheerleader, the piece notes. Former contestants include TV host and political commentator George Stephanopoulos, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Chabon.