Willard Scott, beloved TV weatherman, clown and notable member of McDonald’s history, died on Saturday at 87. The longtime showman has a lengthy career in entertainment that started in Washington radio.
As Today’s obituary of Scott detailed, the weatherman was known for far more than just giving out the forecast. He was Bozo the Clown, for starters, and also served as the first Ronald McDonald when the fast food company hired him to help sell burgers.
Scott, who joined TODAY in 1980, may have been best known for wishing happy birthday to fans turning 100, a feature that soared in popularity over the years, with images of centenarians appearing on Smucker’s jelly jars while Scott recognized them in front of millions of viewers.
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 bygone children’s icon who appeared on airwaves around the country in the ’60s and ’70s.
Scott also had the distinction of being the first person to play Ronald McDonald, appearing in commercials in the Washington area starting in 1963.
The news was particularly heartbreaking for Al Roker, who shared a special relationship with his fellow Today Show weatherman alumnus.
“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.”
Many from the Today Show’s past and present, as well as fans, shared memories and thoughts about Scott on Saturday.
Willard Scott (1934-2021): pic.twitter.com/ySJXs0ptvq
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) September 4, 2021
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
My favorite Willard Scott moment .. RIP https://t.co/I5gosLUlBB
— Leah Sabin (@Sabin913) September 4, 2021
A wonderful guy. I only met him a couple of times at NBC but I grew up watching him in DC. RIP https://t.co/w0eHJv4TzK
— Josh Mankiewicz (@JoshMankiewicz) September 4, 2021
Willard Scott was a legend and I was so honored to work with him. He was always a gentleman, always kind, always funny and unbelievable at his job. Sending love to his family that he loved so much. #WillardScott ❤️
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) September 4, 2021