Willard Scott, the longtime television personality and weatherman on NBC’s The Today Show, has died at the age of 87.
Al Roker, Scott’s longtime friend and Today successor, announced the news of his passing 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 wrote. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
“He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit,” Roker added. “Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him.”
Scott’s six-decade career in broadcasting began on the radio as the co-star of the improvised comedy show Joy Boys. Between 1955 and 1972, Scott hosted the program nightly with his former American University classmate, Ed Walker.
Starting in the early 1970s, Scott transitioned full-time to television with a gig as a weekday weatherman on the local NBC affiliate in Washington, DC. He eventually caught the attention of NBC executives in New York, who in 1980 hired Scott to serve as the weatherman on Today.
During his tenure on Today, Scott often dressed up in extravagant costumes and lovingly engaged with the in-studio audience. He also famously wished centenarians a happy birthday on-air.
Scott went into semi-retirement from Today in 1996, but continued to appear on the show in various capacities until 2015.
Scott is also credited as being the originator of McDonald’s Ronald McDonald, portraying an early version of the mascot in local television spots in the 1960s. He also briefly played Bozo the Clown between 1959 and 1962.