Mac McGarry, the TV host of “It’s Academic” who spent several decades quizzing teenage contestants in Baltimore and Washington trivia questions about topics as diverse as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Chubby Checker and the chemical makeup of paint, died of pneumonia Thursday at his home in Potomac, reports theBaltimore Sun. He was 87.
As host of “It’s Academic,” which launched in Washington in 1961 and became the longest-running quiz program in TV history, McGarry liked to describe himself as the area’s most inquisitive man.
A Washington radio and TV personality, he carved a multifaceted career spanning six decades. He covered presidential inaugurations and the start of the Korean War. He also hosted a big-band radio show, was an early TV sparring partner of Willard Scott and appeared with a young Jim Henson and his Muppets, the newspaper said.
But it was as the bespectacled face of “It’s Academic” that McGarry became a Saturday staple for generations of Baltimore and Washington brainiacs who competed for scholarship money and intellectual glory, the Sun wrote.
McGarry, the show’s first host, said he believed in the show’s mission to “put these kids out front, where they belong.”
The show started on Washington’s NBC affiliate, WRC. The same format, sometimes under different names, was later brought to Baltimore and more than a dozen other markets nationwide.
McGarry emceed the educational quiz show in Baltimore from 1973 to 2000, the Sun said. The show currently airs on WJZ-TV. McGarry retired from the Washington show in 2011 after 50 years as the host.
Read complete obituary information on the Baltimore Sun website.