Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jim McKay of ABC's Wide World of Sports, 1921 - 2008

Although I'm the farthest thing from a sports fan there is, I fondly recall watching ABC's omnibus weekend afternoon Wide World of Sports series a lot as a kid. My memories of the show are good ones, especially watching the bobsledding and other then-extreme sports with my Dad who was also not a big sports guy but enjoyed WWoS a lot, too. Sports journalist Jim McKay, who died yesterday, was at the helm of the show from 1961 until 1998, and in addition to his iconic presence on WWoS he also particularly distinguished himself on many Olympics broadcasts and especially so during the massacre at the 1972 Munich Games. Calm, erudite and classy, Jim McKay was a welcome and familiar presence in many of our living rooms for decades and would be a fine role model for anybody seeking to enter television journalism. They really don't make 'em like him anymore.

There is an excellent biography of McKay at the Museum of Broadcast Communications website, a succinct summary of his life and career on Wikipedia, and quite good coverage and footage on the ESPN website. In 1998 Jim McKay wrote his autobiography The Real McKay: My Wide World of Sports which you can get on Amazon, of course.

Here's that memorable opening from Wide World of Sports (circa 1984) with Jim McKay's immortal narration. I know I'm not the only one who remembers every note of this exciting theme.


Scott said...

I've often felt that Jim McCay was the reason I never really warmed up to Peter Jennings. The Munich massacre showed that amazing human side of McKay and it endeared him to the masses. I know Jennings, a news man, is supposed to stay calm and unbiased, but I thought during that whole tragedy he was simply steely cold. Even Cronkite shed a tear on live TV after the JFK assassination (I know that was a more emotional moment for Americans, but c'mon!) Jim McKay was a class act and managed to get non-jocks like myself to watch sports. We'll miss him.

Jane said...

I read Jim McCay obits in three different newspapers today, including the NY Times, and The Flaming Nose tribute was the best. Nice job, Lisa!