Willard Scott, Longtime ‘Today’ Weatherman, Dies at 87

Willard Scott, the antic longtime climate forecaster on the “Today” present, whose work, by his personal cheerful acknowledgment, made it clear that you simply don’t want a weatherman to know which means the wind blows, died on Saturday at his farm in Delaplane, Va. He was 87.

His dying was confirmed by his spouse, Paris Keena Scott. She didn’t specify a trigger, saying solely that he had died after a short sickness.

Mr. Scott, who had earlier performed each Bozo the Clown and the unique Ronald McDonald on tv, was among the many first of a era of tv weathermen who careworn showmanship over science. Throughout the late 20th century, he was additionally a ubiquitous tv pitchman.

A garrulous, gaptoothed, boutonnière-wearing, funny-hatted, generally toupee-clad, larger-than-life American Everyman (in his prime, he stood 6-foot-Three and weighed practically 300 kilos), Mr. Scott was employed in 1980 to assist NBC’s “Today” compete with its chief rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Joining “Today” that March, Mr. Scott went on to sport a string of outré outfits, spout a cornucopia of cornpone humor and want pleased birthday to a spate of American centenarians, all whereas speaking in regards to the forecast on occasion, till his retirement in 2015.

Though he was meant to signify the brand new, late-model tv weatherman, Mr. Scott delivered to the job a model of shtick that harked again to earlier occasions. He appeared concurrently to embody the jovial, backslapping Rotarian of the mid-20th century, the halfway barker of the 19th and, within the opinion of at least some critics, the courtroom jester of the Middle Ages.

There was the time, as an illustration, that he delivered the forecast dressed as Boy George. There was the time he did so dressed as Carmen Miranda, the “Brazilian bombshell” of an earlier period, dancing earlier than the climate map in excessive heels, ruffled pink robe, copious jewellery and huge fruited hat. There was the time, reporting from an out of doors occasion, that he kissed a pig on digital camera.

The pig didn’t take kindly to being kissed and squealed mightily.

Mr. Scott, who started his profession in radio earlier than changing into a weatherman at WRC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Washington, had no background in meteorology or any allied science. But as he readily acknowledged, the weatherman’s job as reconstructed for the postmodern age didn’t require any.

“A trained gorilla could do it,” Mr. Scott stated in 1975, whereas he was at WRC.

The solely scientific asset one really wanted, he identified, was the phone variety of the National Weather Service.

In greater than three a long time with “Today,” Mr. Scott traversed the nation, delivering the climate on location at county gala’s, city parades and quaint byways throughout America, in addition to from NBC’s studios in New York.

A frequent visitor on late-night TV, he was a spokesman for a variety of charitable causes and a industrial pitchman with broad tv publicity — too broad, some critics maintained.

The issues he endorsed included Howard Johnson Motor Lodges, True Value Hardware, Burger King, Lipton tea, Maxwell House espresso, the American Dairy Association, the Florida Citrus Commission, Diet Coke, USA Today and lots of others.

“A huckster for all seasons,” The New York Times referred to as him in 1987.

Mr. Scott’s onscreen persona — by his personal account little completely different from his offscreen persona — divided viewers. Some adored him, inundating him with presents, which he would possibly show on the air. (Among them, the 1987 article in The Times reported, was “an airplane built out of Diet Coke cans.”)

In January 1989, the nation’s new first girl, Barbara Bush, broke ranks from the inaugural parade for her husband, George H.W. Bush, to dart over to Mr. Scott, broadcasting from the sidelines, and plant an impromptu kiss on his cheek.

“I don’t know Willard Scott,” Mrs. Bush defined afterward. “I just love that face.”

Then once more, as The Boston Globe reported in 1975, there was this incident, from Mr. Scott’s days at WRC: “He was pushing a shopping cart in a Virginia supermarket recently when a little old lady charged by and smacked him with her umbrella. ‘I can’t stand you,’ she said.”

The son of Willard Herman Scott, an insurance coverage salesman, and Thelma (Phillips) Scott, a phone operator, Willard Herman Scott Jr. was born on March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, Va.

He was smitten with broadcasting from the time he was a boy, and at 16 he turned a $12-a-week web page at WRC-TV. After he earned a bachelor’s diploma in philosophy and faith from American University, Mr. Scott and a classmate, Ed Walker, took to the Washington airwaves with a comic book radio present, “The Joy Boys.”

With day out from 1956 to 1958 for Mr. Scott’s Navy service, “The Joy Boys” was broadcast on WRC-AM from 1955 to 1972 and on WWDC-AM in Washington from 1972 to 1974. Featuring humorous improvisation and topical satire, it gained a big following.

From 1952 to 1962, Mr. Scott additionally performed the title character on “Bozo the Clown,” the WRC-TV model of a syndicated kids’s present. In the early ’60s, on the energy of his Bozo, McDonald’s requested him to develop a clown character for use in its promoting.

As Ronald McDonald, Mr. Scott did a number of native TV commercials for the franchise however was handed over — in consequence of his corpulence, he later stated — as its nationwide consultant.

In 1967, he began doing the climate on WRC-TV. There, his exploits included rising from a manhole one Groundhog Day dressed as an astoundingly giant groundhog.

When Mr. Scott was employed by “Today,” he supplanted the meteorologist Bob Ryan, who was fired to make means for him. Mr. Ryan, who held a bachelor’s diploma in physics and a grasp’s in atmospheric science, had beforehand labored as a cloud physicist.

Mr. Scott’s early weeks at “Today,” he later recalled, had been “touch and go.”

But by 1987, The Times reported, “his tenure there” was “credited with helping to catapult the show past ‘Good Morning America’ into first place in the breakfast-time sweepstakes.”

Not all of Mr. Scott’s colleagues accepted of his modus operandi. In 1988, Bryant Gumbel, a co-host of “Today,” wrote a confidential memorandum to an NBC government wherein he castigated the work of a number of colleagues, notably Mr. Scott.

The memo, leaked to New York Newsday the following 12 months, charged that Mr. Scott “holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste.”

Though Mr. Scott publicly forgave Mr. Gumbel, giving him a conciliatory kiss on the cheek on a “Today” section quickly afterward, he stated elsewhere that the memo had “cut like a knife.”

With NBC colleagues, Mr. Scott shared three Daytime Emmys within the 1990s for protection of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He went into semiretirement in 1996, ceding common forecasting to Mr. Roker whereas persevering with to ship birthday tributes.

Mr. Scott’s first spouse, Mary (Dwyer) Scott, whom he married in 1959, died in 2002. He married Paris Keena Scott, his second spouse, in 2014. In addition to her, he’s survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Sally Scott Swiatek and Mare Scott, and two grandchildren, Sally Marie Swiatek and John Willard Swiatek.

Mr. Scott was the creator of a number of books, together with “Willard Scott’s Down Home Stories” (1984) and “Willard Scott’s All-American Cookbook” (1986).

For all its burlesque jocularity, Mr. Scott asserted, his job was no much less taxing consequently.

“Everything I do looks like it just falls into place,” he instructed The Los Angeles Times in 1988. “Part of what I do is make it fall into place. You have to work at being a buffoon.”

Michael Levenson contributed reporting.