Willard Scott, the popular weatherman who captivated NBC’s “Today” program viewers with his self-deprecating humor and upbeat demeanor, has died. He was 87 years old.
Scott died quietly Saturday morning, surrounded by family, according to Al Roker, his replacement on the morning news program. The revelation was verified by an NBC Universal spokesperson. There were no additional information provided.
“He really was my second father, and I am where I am now due of his giving spirit,” Roker said on Instagram. “Willard was a product of his period, the consummate broadcaster. There will never be another like him.”
Sadly, Willard Scott, No More
Katie Couric tweeted, “He had such an outsized part in my life and was as kind, caring, and giving off-camera as he was on.”
Scott started his 65-year career at NBC as an entry-level page at an affiliate station in Washington, D.C., and climbed through the ranks to become the network’s flagship morning show’s weather forecaster for more than three decades. His hallmark was placing viewers’ faces on Smucker’s jelly jars to give them on-air birthday wishes when they reached 100 years old, as well as providing weather reports in outrageous costumes.
According to NBC, he once accepted a viewer’s challenge to dress up like the Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda in order to earn a $1,000 contribution to the USO, a charity for military families. The act was nothing new for Scott, who had previously portrayed Bozo the Clown on a children’s TV program in the 1960s and Ronald McDonald in advertisements in the Washington region.
Throughout the 1980s, he often appeared as Santa Claus for the National Tree Lighting ceremony and co-anchored NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1987 to 1997. During her husband, President George H.W. Bush’s, 1989 inaugural procession, First Lady Barbara Bush offered him a kiss on live television.
“(The president) replied, ‘I had no idea you knew Willard Scott.’ ‘I don’t know Willard Scott,’ I replied. “I simply adore that face,” said the first woman.
Scott turned up the reigns to Roker in 1996, and he would sometimes fill in for him over the following decade until retiring completely in 2015.
He is survived by his wife, Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014, and two children from his previous marriage to Mary Dwyer Scott, who died in 2002.
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