Jim McKay biography
SynopsisBorn in Philadelphia in 1921, Jim McKay is one of the most famous sportscasters in the history of television. He hosted ABC's Wide World of Sports, a show that covered nearly every sport imaginable. He was also a frequent Olympic commentator, proving himself to be an outstanding journalist during the tragic 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, reporting for more than 16 hours. He won numerous awards.
Early CareerSportscaster, journalist. Born James McManus on September 24, 1921, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The former host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and frequent Olympic commentator, Jim McKay is one of the famous sportscaster in the history of television. A graduate of Loyola College, he started out as a newspaper reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1946. The next year McKay became a television personality on Baltimore’s first television station WMAR-TV, handling news and sports. He also worked hard behind the scenes as a writer, producer, and director.
Wide World of SportsWith his strong journalism skills and appealing on-camera persona, McKay was a rising star, earning his own variety show on CBS in 1950. But soon much of his work for CBS revolved around sports. As a sports commentator, he covered such events such as golf tournaments, horse racing, and college football. In 1961, McKay made the move to ABC where he hosted Wide World of Sports created by ABC Sports president Roone Arledge. He served as the program’s anchor, which was a type of sports variety show, covering nearly every sport imaginable, from jai alai to weight lifting to skiing. Each weekend, viewers tune in to see, as McKay said in the show’s opening, “the thrill of victory” and “the agony of defeat.”
Olympic CoverageIn addition to his duties on the popular Wide World of Sports, McKay also served as an Olympic commentator. He proved himself to be an outstanding journalist and broadcaster during the tragic 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. After days of covering the games, McKay was called upon to report on one of the saddest events in Olympic history. At the Olympic Village, where the athletes were staying during the games, a group of Israeli athletes had been taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists who had already killed two athletes in their initial siege. McKay delivered news on the event for more than 16 hours as the tragedy unfolded. After negotiations failed, all of the hostages, five of the terrorists, and a West German police officer were killed during an unsuccessful rescue effort. McKay won two Emmy Awards for his work at the games, one for sports coverage and the other for his news reporting.
Awards and HonorsDuring his distinguished career, McKay has earned many honors, including thirteen Emmy Awards, most recently for 1992 sports special, Athletes and Addiction: It’s Not a Game as well as the Peabody Award in 1989 and the Olympic Order in 1998. He was also inducted into the Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995. In addition to his on-air accomplishments, McKay is also an author. He has also written two books based on his life and experiences in sports: My Wide World (1973) and The Real McKay (1998).
86 year-old Jim McKay died of natural causes on June 7, 2008 on his farm in Monkton, Maryland. He and his wife Margaret couple have two children, Mary and Sean. His son, Sean McManus, is now president of CBS Sports and CBS News.