Willard Scott, “the beloved weatherman who charmed viewers of NBC’s “Today” show with his self-deprecating humor and cheerful personality,” has died, reports the AP. He was 87.
His successor on the “Today” show, Al Roker, announced that Scott died peacefully Saturday morning surrounded by family. An NBC Universal spokeswoman confirmed the news. No further details were released.
“He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit,” Roker wrote on Instagram. “Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him.”
“He played such an outsized role in my life and was as warm and loving and generous off-camera as he was on,” Katie Couric, shown above with Scott, tweeted.
Scott began his 65-year career at NBC as an entry-level page at NBC-owned WRC Washington, D.C., and rose to become the weather forecaster on the network’s flagship morning show for more than three decades. His trademark was giving on-air birthday greetings to viewers who turned 100 years old by putting their faces on Smucker’s jelly jars and delivering weather updates in zany costumes.
In addition, while at WRC, Scott was offered what would become an iconic role: that of McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald. The ad appeared only in the D.C., market, but it was the first time the character appeared in any advertising for the restaurant chain. In fact, Scott created Ronald McDonald. The role came about in 1963 when McDonald’s took note of Scott’s work as “Bozo the Clown” on local television (per Vanity Fair) and hired Scott to develop a clown character for the chain. The result was “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown.” Scott as Ronald McDonald made a nose out of a McDonald’s cup and wore a hat that consisted of a tray that held a Styrofoam burger, a bag of french fries, and a milkshake, reports mashed.
While working for WRC, states Wikipedia, he was teamed with Ed Walker to become the Joy Boys and created a popular daily improvised comedy radio show. The duo did various skits and satirized prominent people of the day, such as Scott’s character “Arthur Codfish” (mocking Arthur Godfrey). They both regularly parodied NBC-TV’s Huntley-Brinkley Report with their own zany “Washer-Dryer Report.”