Willard Scott, the jovial “Today” show weatherman and famous birthday well-wisher, whose boyish spirit brightened even dreary mornings for two generations of Americans, died Saturday. He was 87.
Al Roker, Scott’s “Today” show successor, shared news of Scott’s death on Instagram.
“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. “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.”
The cause of death was not released.
Scott joined the “Today” show in 1980 and was a constant presence beamed into millions of American homes for 30 years.
His daily birthday wishes to viewers turning 100 become an endearing segment, with the images of the centenarians projected onto jars of Smucker’s jelly while Scott described them in glowing terms.
His career at NBC actually spanned 65 years, according to the “Today” show website, starting as a page for the network’s NBC affiliate in 1950.
He often stepped into offbeat roles on television, even before he grew to national fame.
Among other achievements that spoke to his effervescent spirt, Scott portrayed on television both Bozo the Clown and hamburger pitch-man Ronald McDonald.
In 1985 he famously delivered the weather dressed as pop singer Boy George, whose androgynous look shocked the culture of the time.
He portrayed many other colorful characters, both real and imaginary, including a Cupid on Valentine’s Day, a groundhog to celebrate Groundhog Day and flamboyant Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda, the latter an effort secure a $1,000 donation to the USO, according to Today.com.
He was born on March 7, 1934 in Alexandria, Va., and graduated from American University in Washington D.C., where he got his first taste for the broadcast industry working for the college radio station.
He was honored by President Reagan with a Private Sector Award for Public Service in 1985, Today.com reported. Scott was married for 43 years to wife Mary Dwyer Scott, with whom he had two children, until her death in 2002. He is survived by Paris Keena, his wife of seven years.