Willard Scott, exuberant television personality who entertained millions of people for decades as a weather presenter on NBC’s “Today”, has died at 87.
Al Roker, who took over from Scott in 1996 after his semi-retirement, confirmed the news, posting on social media that the network’s long-running morning show “has lost a beloved member” of his family.
“Willard Scott passed away peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by his family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris,” Roker wrote on Instagram. “He was truly my second father and I am where I am today thanks to his generous spirit. Willard was a man of his time, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be someone like him.”
Born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1934, Scott began his career as a broadcaster in 1950, working as a page on the NBC WRC radio station in Washington, DC In 1955, Scott began hosting the “Joy Boys” radio show. “, which lasted until 1974. Scott also served in the United States Navy from the mid to late 1950s.
Scott also began hosting children’s television shows in the 1960s, including portraying the iconic Bozo the Clown on WRC-TV, the NBC Washington, DC affiliate television station and sister television station of the WRC radio.
Scott also has the honor of being the first person to play McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald in a series of television commercials in 1963.
In 1980, Scott became the meteorologist on the “Today” show and became known for his larger than life personality – including stunts such as dressing up as Boy George, Cupid on Valentine’s Day and even Carmen. Miranda for a donation to United Service Organizations (USO).
“People said I was a buffoon to do it,” Scott told The New York Times in a 1987 interview. “Well, my whole life I’ve been a buffoon. It’s my act. ”
Scott also started a tradition in 1983 by honoring a viewer’s request to wish his mother a happy 100th birthday, starting a tradition of sending greetings to centenarians that has spanned decades.
Scott semi-retired from the series in 1996 and was replaced by Roker, making occasional replacements and guest appearances until his official retirement in 2015, ending a 35-year stint on “Today.”
According to “Today”, Scott is survived by his wife, Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014.