How did Willard Scott die? Former NBC 'Today' weatherman dies at 87
'Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him,' 'Today's' Al Roker said
Willard Scott, the iconic "Today" show weatherman, died Saturday, September 4 morning at the age of 87, NBC spokesperson Elizabeth Bader confirmed.
'Today's' Al Roker shared the news on Instagram, calling Willard "a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster." The genial Scott was known as the show's signature weatherman until he announced his semi-retirement in 1996, when Roker took over the job. Roker tweeted, "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. He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit. Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him."
Katie Couric also paid tribute on Twitter. "I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. He played such an outsized role in my life & was as warm & loving & generous off camera as he was on. Willard, you didn’t make it to the front of the Smucker’s jar, but you changed so many lives for the better," she tweeted alongside an old photo of the two.
I am heartbroken that the much loved Willard Scott has passed away. He played such an outsized role in my life & was as warm & loving & generous off camera as he was on. Willard, you didn’t make it to the front of the Smucker’s jar, but you changed so many lives for the better.♥️ pic.twitter.com/aePQnZxf5O— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) September 4, 2021
He was born on March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, Virginia and started his broadcasting career after graduating from American University in Washington. In 2015, the longtime NBC weatherman officially retired from the 'Today' show after 35 years. During his time on the show, Scott was well known for using Smucker's jelly jars to wish happy birthday to viewers turning 100 or older and had the distinction of being the first person to play Ronald McDonald, appearing in commercials in the Washington area starting in 1963. Before joining 'Today', Scott hosted the 'Joy Boys' radio show on NBC's radio station WRC from 1955 to 1974. In the 1960s, he also hosted children's TV shows and appeared on WRC playing a wide range of characters, including Bozo the Clown, a kid's icon who appeared on airwaves around the country in the '60s and '70s.
Scott loved dressing up and presented the weather as Boy George in 1985 when he was at the height of his fame. One year he also dressed up as a giant Cupid for Valentine’s Day, a groundhog to mark Groundhog Day and a barrel on the day taxes were due. Perhaps his best-known stunt was dressing up as Brazilian actress and singer Carmen Miranda in 1983 so he could secure a $1,000 donation to the USO. ''People said I was a buffoon to do it,'' he told The New York Times in a 1987 interview. ''Well, all my life I've been a buffoon. That's my act.'' He started wishing viewers a happy 100th birthday in 1983 after a viewer got in contact to request he wished his mom a happy birthday. Scott was even approached by first lady Barbara Bush during the 1989 inauguration parade of her husband, President George H W Bush. "Suddenly, I look over and see this very happy face, race over, give that face a kiss, race back to (husband) George," she recalled. "He said, 'I didn't know you knew Willard Scott.' I said, 'I don't know Willard Scott. I just love that face.'" Scott is survived by his wife Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014, as well as his two daughters, Mary and Sally.