WASHINGTON – After an amazing 50 years in front of the camera, Mac McGarry recently retired as host of the local high school quiz show “It’s Academic.”
The show has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running of its kind in the world.
McGarry, who is still feisty at 85, recalls when he first began working in Washington D.C.
“I started with WRC in 1950, when streetcars were still moving around town,” he says.
McGarry marvels that back then he could park his car on West Executive Avenue near the White House for an entire month without getting a ticket or a tow. Today that street is closed to the public for security reasons.
“It’s Academic” launched with McGarry as host in 1961.
“I’d have to be certainly one of the longest running guys in TV history”, he says.
McGarry considered staying on the show for this year’s 51st season, but decided 50 years was a good round place to stop.
In one way, he misses hosting the show.
“When you’re working with young people, it helps you stay young,” he says. “Over all the decades, I’d look up and there would be nine teenagers.”
But now, “the earliest contestants on the program are now in their upper 60s,” McGarry says with amazement.
The show’s funny moments really stick with him:
“The question was, ‘Who wrote the ‘Communist Manifesto’ with Friedrich Engels?’ A guy screamed out, ‘Groucho Marx! Groucho Marx!’ I said, ‘No no no.'”
McGarry is still watching “It’s Academic” from home, and hopes to stay involved as much as he can. He also enjoys another TV show you may know.
“I watch ‘Jeopardy’ all the time and Alex Trebek does a terrific job,” he says. “Man, some of those questions are awfully, awfully hard.”
WTOP’s own anchor Hillary Howard is the new host of “It’s Academic,” but today McGarry makes a special appearance.