Willard Scott, rollicking weatherman of TV’s ‘Today’ display 35 years, dies at 87

Al Roker (L) and Matt Lauer (2nd L) enjoy as Willard Scott (C) and Gene

Al Roker (L) and Matt Lauer (2nd L) enjoy as Willard Scott (C) and Gene Shalit (R) dance with Meredith Vieira during her first working day on NBC’s ‘Today’ exhibit in New York September 13, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photograph

  • Scott: ‘I’m major, overpowering, flamboyant and loud’
  • Weatherman had no official meteorological teaching
  • ‘Today’ co-anchor claimed Scott held the exhibit ‘hostage’

Sept 4 (Reuters) – Willard Scott, the ebullient former “Nowadays” clearly show weatherman, venerator of centenarians, pitchman extraordinaire and the original hamburger-hawking Ronald McDonald, died on Saturday, his successor on the early morning exhibit Al Roker explained. He was 87.

Scott’s chatty, folksy way coated up his absence of meteorological teaching in the course of his time as American television’s most popular weatherman.

Roker tweeted that Scott died peacefully surrounded by spouse and children but launched no even further information. He described Scott as a broadcast icon.

Believing television temperature forecasters wanted to have some type of shtick, Scott gave viewers a madcap, eager-to-please persona all through a 35-calendar year operate on NBC’s “Today” that ended with his retirement on Dec. 15, 2015.

Scott was with NBC a complete of 65 a long time.

His act was aided by a substantial threshold for shame. He dressed as Cupid for a person Valentine’s Working day, arrived out of a manhole in a groundhog costume on Groundhog Working day, experienced an on-the-air bar mitzvah (he was a Southern Baptist) and kissed a pig.

Most famously, he went on the air dressed as 1940s dancer Carmen Miranda – including dress, earrings, higher heels and fruit-laden hat – to reward a charity.

“Individuals stated I was a buffoon to do it,” Scott informed the New York Instances. “Effectively, all my lifestyle I have been a buffoon. That’s my act.”

At his peak reputation, Scott also was a very well-paid out, in-demand convention speaker and ubiquitous pitchman, selling sodas and tea, oranges, autos, lodges, jelly, hardware and other items.

Scott was born and grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington suburb, and was a teen when he took his initial broadcast task as a web site for an NBC station in Washington in 1950.


While doing the job in Washington Television and radio, Scott took a aspect task portraying Bozo the Clown on a kid’s exhibit, which led to a different clown job that grew to become one of the world’s greatest-identified marketing and advertising people.

A Washington-place McDonald’s franchise owner employed Scott in the early 1960s for advertisements for his eating places as the to start with Ronald McDonald, the hamburger-loving clown. It was a crude costume – Scott wore a food items box on his head and experienced a paper cup for a nose – but the people today at McDonald’s headquarters favored it sufficient to just take the character nationwide.

For the countrywide advert campaign McDonald’s hired anyone else to enjoy Ronald, leaving Scott to feel it was his dimension – he was 6-foot-3 (1.9 meters) and weighed close to 300 lbs . (136 kg) at situations – that price him the work.

Scott’s success in Washington led to the climate occupation at “Nowadays” in 1980 and his outsized personality, fantastic ole boy demeanor and small-town values produced him a fan preferred. Viewers despatched him gifts and flocked to see him when he did the weather dwell from county fairs, parades and civic situations around the country.

In 1983 Scott wished a pleased 100th birthday to a female on the air, starting a tradition that grew to become a single of the “These days” show’s most preferred characteristics. The show gained hundreds of requests for 100th birthday shout-outs and Scott did them after a week on the exhibit into 2015, very long immediately after he experienced turned over the complete-time weather position. In all, he declared some 40,000 100th birthdays, NBC stated.


Not everybody appreciated Scott’s on-air antics. In a 1989 inside memo that was leaked to the media, “Today” co-anchor Bryant Gumbel stated Scott was keeping the clearly show “hostage to his assortment of whims, needs, birthdays and bad style.”

“This guy’s killing us and no one’s even hoping to rein him in,” Gumbel wrote.

Scott was miffed but common sentiment was on his facet. Much more than 27,000 respondents to a United states Now cellular phone-in poll stated Scott was an asset to the show, with 854 indicating he hurt it.

“I operate since folks know I love them,” Scott as soon as advised Men and women magazine. “I also know that just the truth that I’m alive offends some persons. I’m major, overpowering, flamboyant and loud … I may put my foot in my mouth five times out of 6 but the sixth time, I strike a chord and people today reply.”

Scott, who wrote a number of publications, also was a co-anchor of NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from 1987 to 1997 and usually appeared as Santa Claus at the White House.

Scott and his spouse Mary had been married from 1959 right until her demise in 2002 and experienced two daughters. Shortly following turning 80 in 2014, he married Paris Keena, whom he initial achieved in 1977 at a Washington tv station.

Producing and reporting by Bill Trott Modifying by Matthew Lewis and Howard Goller

Our Criteria: The Thomson Reuters Trust Concepts.