Willard Scott, Longtime 'Today' Show Weatherman, Dead at 87

Willard Scott, the beloved TODAY weatherman, has died at the age of 87. TODAY anchor Al Roker confirmed the sad news on Instagram. "We lost a beloved member of our [TODAY] family this morning," Roker wrote alongside several photos with his friend and coworker. "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."

Scott joined TODAY as a weatherman in 1980 and was best known for his exuberant celebration of fans who reached their 100th birthdays. He worked with NBC for 65 years, starting his career in the NBC page program at the Washington D.C. affiliate station. Scott was famous for his gregarious nature and ability to connect with his fans throughout his career. "I just love people," he said in a 1987 interview with The New York Times. "A lot of speakers on the talk circuit leave right afterward. I do a lot of shmoozing. I'm like a dog. You just open the door and I go, 'rrrr, rrrr,' and then I lick everybody's face.'"

Scott was born on March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, Virginia, and attended American University in Washington D.C. in the 1950s. In 1955, he became the host of the Joy Boys radio show on the NBC radio station WRC until it ended in 1974. In the 1960s, he was a regular host of children's TV shows and built up a repertoire of beloved characters. He was also the first person to play Ronald McDonald for commercials in the Washington area starting in 1963. He would go on to be a local weatherman at a local station before joining the big leagues of TODAY in 1980.

Scott's gimmick was his dedication to dressing up and being different characters, Including dressing up as singer and actress Carmen Miranda to raise a $1,000 donation for the USO. "People said I was a buffoon to do it," he told The New York Times in 1987. "⁣Well, all my life I've been a buffoon. That's my act."

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In 1996, Scott semi-retired and Al Roker took over his spot on TODAY, although Scott would still fill in from time to time over the next decade. He officially retired in 2015 after 35 years with TODAY. "He's a friend. He is literally my second dad," Roker said when Scott retired for good. He was married to his first wife Mary Dwyer Scott from 1959 until her death in 2002, and they had two children. He is survived by his second wife Paris Keena, whom he married in 2014.