Willard Scott, who forecast the weather for NBC’s “Today” show for more than three decades and spent 65 years at NBC, has died, Al Roker said in an Instagram post on Saturday.
“We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning. Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris,” Roker captioned a series of heartwarming photos of him and Scott.
Roker went on to call Scott his “second dad” and said Scott’s “generous spirit” helped his career get to where it is today.
“Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him,” Roker concluded.
Scott, born March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, Virginia, joined “Today” in 1980 and became known for wishing fans turning 100 a happy birthday. He began his career at NBC in the company’s Page Program, a learning and development program that provides exposure to the media industry. He worked at the affiliate station in Washington D.C. in 1950, according to Today.
In 1955, Scott became the host of “Joy Boys,” a radio show on the NBC station WRC. He stayed with the program until it ended in 1974.
In the 1960s, he also hosted children’s television shows and appeared on WRC playing a range of characters, including Bozo the Clown. He became the first person to play Ronald McDonald and appeared in D.C. area commercials as the clown, according to “Today.”
During the 1970s, Scott became a forecaster for NBC’s local channel 4 station and in March 1980 he replaced Bob Ryan as “Today’s” weatherman.
Scott brought his over-the-top personality to “Today” dressing up for weather updates as Boy George, a giant Cupid and Brazilian singer and actress Carmen Miranda. In a 1987 New York Times interview, Scott addressed some of the backlash from dressing up as the “Chica Chica Boom Chica” songstress.
“People said I was a buffoon to do it. Well, all my life I’ve been a buffoon. That’s my act,” he said.
Scott semi-retired in 1996 and was replaced on “Today” by Al Roker, although there were times he would fill in for Roker. He officially said goodbye to television in 2015 after 35 years as a “Today” forecaster. But in 2019, he surprised Roker for his 65th birthday by appearing in a video with other “Today” cast and crew.
Scott’s accomplishments on the small screen won him the Private Sector Award for Public Service by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.
Scott is survived by his wife Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014 following the death of his previous wife Mary Dwyer Scott, and his two children.