Willard Scott – legendary TODAY meteorologist known for his fiery personality and the start of a tradition of celebrating fans who have reached their centenary – has passed away this week, TODAY’s Al Roker confirmed. He was 87 years old.
Scott, who joined TODAY in 1980, was probably best known for wishing fans over 100 a happy birthday, a feature that has grown in popularity over the years, with Smucker’s jars spanning centuries. The images were visible as Scott recognized them in front of millions of people. the audience.
Scott, who began his 65-year career in 1950 as a page with NBC at the affiliate station in Washington, DC, was also making his predictions on the road, delighting locals with his glittering charm.
“I just love people,” he told the New York Times in 1987. “A lot of speakers on the speaking circuit leave right after. I do a lot of shooming. I am like a dog. You just open the door and I say ‘rrrr, rrrr’ and then I lick everyone’s face.
Born in Alexandria, Virginia on March 7, 1934, Scott’s career in broadcasting began in the 1950s when he graduated from American University in Washington.
In 1955, he began hosting the radio show “Joy Boys” on the NBC WRC radio station and remained on the program until it ended in 1974.
In the 1960s he also hosted children’s television shows and appeared on WRC playing various characters including Bozo the Clown, a bygone child icon who lived in the 1960s and 1970s. Appeared on air at across the country.
Scott also had the distinction of being the first person to play Ronald McDonald, appearing in Washington area commercials since 1963.
Scott lived in Washington in the 1970s, becoming the meteorologist for local NBC station Channel 4. In March 1980 the network called and they replaced TODAY with Bob Ryan as the meteorologist. (Ryan took over Scott’s old job at the WRC by becoming a meteorologist.)
No gadget was too much for Scott. In 1985, he performed the season as Boy George, when the singer was at the height of his fame. He also dressed up as a giant cupid on Valentine’s Day, the day taxes were due, and in a barrel to celebrate Groundhog Day.
Her most memorable stunt, however, was perhaps disguised as Brazilian singer and actress Carmen Miranda on an episode of TODAY in 1983, to secure a $ 1,000 donation to the USO. It drew some criticism for it, but stuck to it.
“People said I had a penchant for doing it,” he told The New York Times in an interview in 1987. “Well, my whole life I’ve been a beggar. This is my act.
In 1983, Scott honored a viewer’s request to wish his mother a happy 100th birthday, starting a tradition of congratulating centenarians that is still going strong today.
He dressed up as Santa Claus at the National Tree-Lighting Ceremony in Washington, DC in the 1980s, as well as at several White House events. He co-hosted the NBC cover of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1987 to 1997 and also had a recurring role as the sociable Mr. Poole on the sitcom “The Hogan Family”.
The amiable Scott was previously approached by First Lady Barbara Bush during the 1989 inauguration parade of her husband, President George HW Bush.
“Suddenly I was looking and seeing so many happy faces, I was running over it, I was kissing that face, I was walking back to (husband) George,” she recalls. “He said, ‘I didn’t know you knew Willard Scott.’ I said, ‘I don’t know Willard Scott. I love that face. ‘”
Former TODAY presenter Katie Couric said of the meeting: “I think people are so drawn to Willard, they really want to be a part of his class and that includes the first ladies.”
In 1996 Scott semi-retired and was replaced by Al Roker to the present day, although he would replace Al for the next 10 years. He officially retired from television in 2015, completing a 35-year journey with TODAY.
“He’s a pal. He’s literally my second dad,” Al said at the time.
Scott reappeared on TODAY in August 2019 wishing Al a happy 65th birthday in a video featuring the show’s cast and crew.
” I can not believe it. My little boy is 65, ”he said. “Where does the world come from?” Hey listen, now you can collect social security and you can make even more money. How lucky you are. You are nothing but the best. Who loves you baby? Do I?”
In 1985, President Reagan presented Scott with a Private Sector Award for Public Service. He was married to his wife Mary Dwyer Scott from 1959 until his death in 2002. He had two children. He is survived by his wife Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.