Iconic Today show weatherman Willard Scott has died. He was 87.
Scott passed away on Saturday, Sept. 4. He served as a weatherman on the NBC series for more than two decades and was known for wishing viewers who turned 100 years old a happy birthday on air. He was succeeded by current co-host Al Roker. Scott is survived by his wife Paris Keena and his kids Sally and Mary from his previous marriage to wife Mary Dwyer Scott, who died in 2002.
“We lost Willard Scott passed peacefully at 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris,” Roker tweeted. “He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit. Willard was truly a broadcast #icon.”
Scott was born in Alexandria, Va. in 1934. As a teenager, he worked as a page at NBC radio station WRC in Washington, D.C. He graduated from American University with a B.A. in philosophy and religion.
Scott worked in both radio and TV throughout the ’60s and later served as a weatherman on WRC-TV. He also played Bozo the Clown in a children’s program for the station and went on to be the first to portray the character of Ronald McDonald in McDonald’s commercials. In his 1983 book The Joy of Living, he wrote that the restaurant chain’s mascot was “born” out of his Bozo show and that he “gave birth” to him.
In 1970, Scott replaced Bob Ryan as the main weatherman on the Today show, while the latter took his old job at WRC-TV. In 1983, he began a tradition of sending on-air birthday greetings to centenarians, inspired by a viewer’s request to honor his mother. The Today show aired photos of the birthday recipients on Smucker’s jelly jars.
Roker took over as the main weatherman on Today in 1996, while Scott occasionally reprised his role. He fully retired in 2015. Four years later, he appeared in a video with Today cast and crew, wishing Roker a happy 65th birthday.
“Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster,” Roker shared on Instagram, alongside a slideshow of photos of himself with Scott “There will never be anyone quite like him.”
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